BALLYMENA UNITED 1
Guy Bates’ time at Glenavon came to an end with his side picking up three points against a stubborn Ballymena United side.
The big Geordie heads off at the start of next week to begin a new life in Australia.
Glenavon took the lead with the first chance inside five minutes. A Kyle Neill corner was turned into the net thanks to a glancing header from Kris Lindsay.
Ballymena grew into the game as the first half wore on, and in particular David Cushley looked most likely to pull the Sky Blues level as he linked up with Alan Teggart.
He had three one-on-one opportunities against Alan Blayney but twice he pulled his shots wide, while on the other occasion he was met by an on rushing home goalkeeper.
Glenavon debutant Ciaran Caldwell almost contributed to a second for the home side when his cross at the start of the second half found Andy McGrory. He played the ball back for Ciaran Martyn but his header went wide.
Ballymena did have the ball in the net when Matthew Tipton headed in a Neal Gawley free kick but it was chalked off by referee Raymond Hetherington as Davy Munster had touched the ball with his hand on the way to the former Portadown striker.
They will be aggrieved too in how Glenavon’s second came about. A Gareth McKeown shot went wide, seemingly of its own accord, however the officials awarded a corner. Kyle Neill took it, and after his initial effort was headed off the line by Stephen McBride, Rhys Marshall was in the right place to head home.
Both sides we’re reduced to 10 men when United captain Allan Jenkins and Glenavon’s Shane McCabe were sent off for an off-the-ball incident following a tussle between Kris Lindsay and Darren Boyce.
Bates made his swan song with 15 minutes to go, receiving a standing ovation from the home fans for his efforts during his 18 months at Mourneview Park.
Cushley pulled a goal back with five minutes the goal, lifting the ball over Blayney after being fed by Tipton.
GLENAVON: Blayney, McKeown, Neill, Lindsay, Bradley, McGrory, Caldwell, Marshall, Braniff, McCabe, Martyn. Subs: McCallion, Murphy, Kilmartin, Hamilton (Braniff 73), Bates (Bradley 76).
BALLYMENA UNITED: Nelson, McCullagh, Munster, Taylor, McBride, Gawley, Taggart, Jenkins, Teggart, Cushley, Tipton. Subs: Stewart, Boyce (Teggart 60), Surgenor (Gawley 73), Ruddy, Kane (McCullagh 74).
REFEREE: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon) gfg