Hat-trick hero Eoin Bradley signs new Glenavon contract

Eoin Bradley celebrates after scoring a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw against  Cliftonville
Eoin Bradley celebrates after scoring a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw against Cliftonville

EOIN Bradley celebrated scoring a hat-trick against Cliftonville by putting pen to paper on a new two-year deal to stay at Mourneview Park.

There was speculation that other clubs had been looking at the big striker, but manager Gary Hamilton was delighted to get his man.

Hamilton said, “Since he’s come in to the club he’s done very well.

“He’s a strong boy, he scores goals and he causes defenders problems. There are very few defenders who like playing against him.

“He knows himself at times he can be frustrating; that’s just the way he his but in most games he contributes something – he either sets up a chance or he scores a goal. Hopefully he can keep going on, scoring goals and doing well for us.”

Bradley’s goals pulled Glenavon back from the dead, having fallen 3-1 down despite dominating proceedings in the first half.

The Glenullin man said he was delighted to be back amongst the goals.

“It’s happy days for me,” he said.

“I should have had a hat-trick last week and now I’ve got one this week, so the goals are starting to come.

“To come back from 3-1 down against a team like Cliftonville isn’t easy, but we’ve done it and it’s a good quality to have.

“You can see what it means to the fans. That’s a couple of times this season we’ve come from behind and if we keep doing that with a never-say-die attitude you never know where it could take you.”

Glenavon had most of the early chances at a freezing Mourneview Park but they were caught cold on the counter attack after an Andy Hall shot was blocked.

Chris Curran led the attack and found James Knowles down the right hand side, allowing him to fire the Reds in front on 23 minutes.

Bradley pulled Glenavon level within 10 minutes of Cliftonville taking the lead, as Andy Kilmartin found Daniel Kearns, allowing him to cross for the striker to head home.

Parity lasted just five minutes, though. A Curran cross was cleared out as far as Jamie McGovern. His shot from 20 yards was deflected in off Simon Kelly, giving McGovern his first goal in senior football.

The Reds doubled their advantage on 51 minutes with another goal scored with the aid of a deflection. Stephen Garrett’s cross found Knowles, 12 yards out, who fired home with Kris Lindsay the unfortunate man in the road.

Darren Murray made his Cliftonville debut on 67 minutes but he made little impact, perhaps unsurprisingly given that he only completed his transfer late in the week.

Glenavon should have been dead and buried but with 11 minutes to go Hall found Bradley down the right. The striker did well to stay on his feet under a tackle from Ryan Catney to score from close range.

Two minutes later the equaliser came as Kelly broke up a Cliftonville attack and played the ball to Joel Cooper. He skipped past Curran and slipped in Bradley to finish for the match ball.

Knowles could have won it in the end with a 20-yard free kick on 86 minutes, but Jonathan Tuffey pulled out a fantastic two-handed save at full stretch to tip the shot away.

Reds boss, Gerard Lyttle, blamed his side’s defensive frailties as they threw away what looked like a victory for their second draw in a row.

He said: “It’s not good enough.

“I thought we played really well until they scored the second goal. Defensively we’ve fallen to pieces and that’s been the story for the last 2-3 games where we’ve been a bit fragile.

“In the first half the boys defended well and threw their bodies on the line but the second and third goals have been gifted again.”