GLENAVON 3 PORTADOWN 2
Glenavon qualified for the Europa League dramatic fashion thanks to a last-minute winner from Andy McGrory.
It was an afternoon to forget for David Miskelly, back in the Portadown line-up after a period out through injury.
He was at fault for both of Glenavon’s goals, the first coming on six minutes when he attempted to punch at a Kevin Braniff corner and completely missed it. The ball instead ricocheted off a defender and in off Rhys Marshall.
Then, just after the half hour mark a backpass by Mark McAllister went right underneath the goalkeeper who was under no pressure at all, allowing Eoin Bradley to nip in and cheekily backheel the ball over the line.
In between the goals the vast majority of play went to Glenavon, but the visitors had their share of chances too. Peter McMahon cut inside after some good build-up play and was unfortunate not to equalise on 10 minutes.
Then James McGrath was called into action to deny Sean Mackle with a fingertip save, pushing his shot from the edge of the box over the bar.
At the other end James Singleton cut a pass back for Andy Kilmartin, whose effort was wide of the target, before Kris Lindsay rose highest but headed a Mark Patton header over the bar.
A more resolute Portadown side came out for the second half and forced McGrath into another good save. This time he was at full stretch to save from Gary Twigg’s close-range header.
Then, on 70 minutes, Glenavon were reduced to 10 men. Singleton went in for a challenge on Ken Oman, but as the two men got up they squared up to each other. Ports captain Michael Gault grabbed Singleton by the neck to pull him away and earned a booking, as did Oman, but Singleton was given his marching orders by referee Raymond Crangle for his reaction to the incident.
From then Portadown began to turn the screw. They got a goal back on 79 minutes through McMahon, a well struck drive from the edge of the box after Portadown’s third corner in a row.
Then, on 84 minutes, it was all square. A corner was turned in towards Garrett before Gary Twigg turned it in at the near post.
Glenavon fans would be forgiven for getting that horrible feeling that their European dream had slipped away from them.
But then, in the 90th minute, Mackle chased Eoin Bradley and hauled him down in the box. Referee Crangle awarded a spot kick, Lurgan held its breath, and Andy McGrory fired Glenavon into Europe.
GLENAVON: McGrath, Kelly, Lindsay(c), Singleton, Marshall, Kilmartin, Martyn, McGrory, Patton, Braniff, Bradley. Subs: McKeown, Neill (Patton 76), Hamilton (Braniff 86), O’Brien, Elebert (Hamilton 90).
PORTADOWN: Casement, Redman, O’Hara, Oman, McMahon, Gault Garrett, Mackle, McAllister, Twigg. Subs: Murray (McAllister 57), Conaty, Brennan, Ramsey, Lyttle.
REFEREE: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)