The lights went out on Warrenpoint Town’s historic first Premiership game at their newly refurbished Milltown home with the tie being abandoned at half-time due to floodlight failure.
With the ‘Point 1-0 in front courtesy of Daniel Hughes’ 21st minute strike and home keeper Jonny Parr saving Gary Hamilton’s penalty just before the interval, things looked to be going perfectly for Barry Gray’s men until one of the floodlights stopped working at the break.
Despite frantic efforts, the light wouldn’t stay on for any concerted period of time and referee Ian McNabb had no option but to abandon the match.
Barry Gray, who as well as managing Warrenpoint was also the Project Manager for the Milltown upgrade was as crestfallen as anyone when he spoke afterwards.
“Everyone is devastated. We were in a situation where we were ahead in the game, our first Premiership game at Warrenpoint,” he said.
“We were fairly pleased with the performance in the first half and looking forward to coming back out in the second half to try and push on and take the points.
“It’s hugely frustrating for everyone connected with the club because there have been a core of people who have worked day and night over the course of the last few weeks to get us to where we are.
“I was the Project Manager in terms of the facilities upgrade and I’m disappointed and embarrassed that the project has fallen flat on its face in the first game.
“The match will happen again and we’ll regroup. It obviously wasn’t meant to be tonight and it’s totally out of everyone’s control.”
Played in a fierce wind, the match took a while to get going but sprang into life just short of the midway point of the first half when Daniel Hughes raced onto a long ball out of defence to outpace Glenavon captain Kris Lindsay before slotting past Andy Coleman.
Lindsay almost redeemed himself seven minutes before the break but he could only head over the bar from a Hamilton corner before the centre-back won a penalty a minute before the end of normal time in the half.
A long throw from the right by Gareth McKeown found Lindsay on the penalty spot and as he tried to aim it goalwards, Liam Bagnall handled and referee McNabb pointed to the spot. However, Parr dived low to his right to keep out Hamilton’s effort and Warrenpoint could have doubled their lead in first half stoppage time.
Left-back Mark Hughes raced clear down the right wing before clipping the ball to the back post where Ruairi Devlin was unmarked. The winger’s volley from point blank range was superbly pushed out by Devlin’s former Newry City team mate Coleman.
Lurgan Blues player-manager Hamilton felt it was the right call to abandon the match.
“I feel it was the correct decision. The players waited about for 20 to 25 minutes and they had cooled down so I think it was a risk of injury as it was so wet and heavy as well. When it goes beyond the 20-minute mark, I think it’s too tough to start playing again. You have to do the warm again and it’s tough to get going again,” Hamilton explained.
“We were playing against the wind in the first half, 1-0 down and we had missed a penalty. We were hoping to take advantage of the wind in the second half.”
Warrenpoint Town officials confirmed that there will be free admission when the sides play the rearranged match with a date yet to be confirmed.