IT has been a very merry Christmas for Glenavon’s supporters as they ended a 17-year wait to beat Portadown on Boxing Day.
Mark Patton, the former Ports winger, popped up in the 93rd minute to give fans of the Lurgan Blues a very late present.
“That was for the Chairman, the supporters and everyone who works hard around the club. It’s been too long,” said player-manager Gary Hamilton.
“We’ve broken a couple of records this season like when we beat Glentoran up here and beat Portadown in the televised game. We want to keep on breaking those records and if we keep on improving I’ll be happy. “
Lurgan didn’t escape the wintry conditions on Boxing Day morning and there were doubts over whether the Mourneview Park pitch would be playable, but referee Raymond Hetherington gave the game the go-ahead 30 minutes before kick-off.
And the game didn’t take long to heat up. Four minutes in Guy Bates, who has been out of form in recent weeks, curled the first shot of the game wide from the edge of the box.
The hosts went in front five minutes from the break when McGrory played the ball over player-boss Hamilton’s shoulder. He let it bounce before unleashing a powerful shot into the net.
Four minutes later they were 2-0 up when Marshall flicked a Neill corner past Miskelly.
They could have had a third shortly after the break when Winkie Murphy headed home a Hamilton corner but it was ruled out for a push in the box.
The next goal would be crucial, and so it proved when Peter McMahon got the Ports back into the game, reacting quickest after his initial shot had been blocked.
Ronnie McFall’s men were back on level terms just two minutes later when McMahon fed Murray to round Coleman, but his shot came back off the post with the rebound being deflected wide for a corner. Chris Casement swung it in and Murray hooked the cross into the net.
The turnaround should have been completed when Marshall failed to deal with a high ball, Gary Twigg nipped in and all he had to do was score, but he fired wide when one on one with Coleman but in the end it was Patton’s goal which was to prove decisive.
“We should have been three up at the break, but Portadown had their opportunities when they got back on level terms,” added Hamilton.
“I have to praise our boys for their character. They fought right to the final whistle and it certainly was last gasp stuff.”
Ports boss Ronnie McFall felt that his side should have got a share of the spoils.
“We showed good character to get back into the game so to lose with the last kick of the game is a kick in the teeth,” he said.
“I felt we showed good character to get back into the game and could have gone on to win it - Gary Twigg’s miss at 3-2 was a key moment. Darren Murray had chances too, but a draw would have been a fair result.
“There was another talking point around the 10 minute mark when Kris Lindsay took out Gary Twigg when he was the last man. Under the current rules and regulations it’s a red card - there’s no two ways about it.
“We’re very disappointed to lose with the last kick but we will pick ourselves up and get on with it.”