IRISH LEAGUE: Glenavon battle back to share spoils with Cliftonville

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

It was honours even as Eoin Bradley’s late goals made Cliftonville surrender a 3-1 lead to Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

Glenavon enjoyed a lot of the early chances with Simon Kelly unable to get his header on target on two minutes, followed by a Daniel Kearns chance seven minutes later which went over the bar.

At the other end Stephen Garrett forced the first save out of either goalkeeper as he took advantage of a missed interception by Kris Lindsay to shoot, but Jonathan Tuffey’s stood up to block his effort.

Glenavon attacked again with Kearns finding Eoin Bradley, but he was unable to get a shot away. He opted to lay back to Andy Hall but his effort was blocked and Cliftonville counter attacked, with Chris Curran finding James Knowles down the right hand side, allowing him to fire the Reds in front on 23 minutes.

But Glenavon pulled level on 32 minutes when Kilmartin found Kearns out wide to cross for Bradley to head home.

Parity lasted just five minutes, though, as Jamie McGovern scored his first goal for the visitors. A Curran cross was cleared out as far as the Cliftonville ‘D’ where McGovern was ready to pounce, although the shot took a deflection on the way in.

The Lurgan Blues were unfortunate not to level just before the break as Andy Hall was denied by Conor Devlin and then by McGovern, before Devlin came to the rescue again in the same phase of play, stopping a Kearns effort.

The Reds extended their lead on 51 minutes with another goal scored with the aid of a deflection, this time Garrett’s cross found Knowles who again took advantage from inside the penalty area.

Glenavon looked for a way back into the match but Joel Cooper’s shot on 62 minutes was meat and drink for Devlin, and the goalkeeper saved low from a Lindsay header from another Hall delivery.

Darren Murray made his Cliftonville debut on 67 minutes, greeted with cheers from the Reds fans, and boos for the ex-Portadown man from the Mourneview faithful.

Still Glenavon pushed and Kelly was unlucky not to find the net twice with headers from Hall free kicks, seeing one cleared off the line by Mark Smyth and the other going over the bar.

Their goal came on 79 minutes as Hall found Bradley down the right, and the striker did well to stay on his feet under a tackle from Ryan Catney and score from close range.

And they amazingly pulled it back to 3-3 two minutes later when Kelly broke up a Cliftonville attack, found Cooper who skipped past Curran and slipped in Bradley to finish for his hat-trick.

Knowles was also after a matchball and on 86 minutes he forced a fantastic two-handed save from Tuffey as the goalkeeper pushed the ball away from a free kick, taken 20 yards from goal.

But, in the end, it was as you were with both sides taking a point.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Kelly, Dillon, Lindsay, Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Bradley, Hall, Sykes, Kearns. Subs: Patton, McGrory (Kearns 87), O’Brien, Hamilton (Cooper 95), Braniff (Kilmartin 71.

Cliftonville: Devlin, McGovern, Ives, Knowles, Curran, McMullan, Garrett, Smyth, Catney, J Donnelly, Cosgrove. Subs: M Donnelly, Murray (McMullan 67), Brennan, George, McNicholl.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)