IRISH LEAGUE: Night of drama as supersubs score in thrilling draw between Glenavon and Glentoran

Andrew Mitchell celebrates breaking the deadlock for Glenavon against Glentoran. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Andrew Mitchell celebrates breaking the deadlock for Glenavon against Glentoran. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

It was one point apiece at Mourneview Park as two super substitutes shared the spotlight during a frantic finale that served up three goals in six dramatic second-half minutes.

Two recent signings stepped off the sidelines and on to the scoresheet in the gripping 2-2 draw as Glenavon appeared set to finish without reward despite dominating the majority of the game, before snatching a share of the spoils in the closing moments.

Robbie McDaid took just five magic minutes to mark his return to Mourneview Park - the club he left in 2014 as a youth player in pursuit of a career across the water - with a goal.

The striker popped up with a slick finish after attacking play by Curtis Allen and John McGuigan to cancel out Andrew Mitchell’s first-half finish.

McDaid came close to grabbing the glory against his boyhood club against the balance of overall play soon after when Glenavon proved static at the back and the forward fired home Marcus Kane’s hopeful upfield punt.

However, Glenavon then turned to weekend arrival Josh Daniels to make his introduction following a move from Derry City - and the winger enhanced his reputation in front of the bumper home crowd by forcing home a ball inside the packed penalty area within 120 seconds of stepping on to the pitch.

The late play served up extra drama as the superb Elliott Morris saved off Daniels and Simon Kelly headed unmarked over the bar.

Early sights of goal proved limited until Glenavon gained control and Morris was forced into a fine acrobatic stop on 14 minutes to push over Mitchell’s close-range drive.

Mitchell’s first attempt on target - thanks to Adam Foley’s cross and a Bobby Burns touch - signalled the start of first-half dominance by the league leaders.

Mitchell then forced Morris into another smart save on 21 minutes when the striker scooped the ball goalwards with an off-balance shot.

The personal battle between Mitchell and Morris tipped in the favour of the former on 24 minutes as Glenavon gained the perfect reward for such a promising start. A driving run from deep by Rhys Marshall ended with Mitchell taking a touch and smashing a superb low drive into the bottom corner beyond the dive of Morris.

It capped an assured start by Mitchell as the focal point of Glenavon’s slick, fluid attack.

Glenavon’s push in pursuit of a second goal produced another promising move when Sammy Clingan’s sliding challenge switched possession and Mark Sykes attacked but his shot on the run flashed just wide of the top corner.

Glenavon managed to maintain the first-half momentum after the interval - with Burns’ free-kick forcing Morris to save at the cost of a corner-kick which Andy Hall delivered and Kelly failed to direct on target.

Glentoran proved off the pace across the pitch - with Kane’s effort over the bar on 48 minutes the visitors’ first shot in anger and McGuigan’s deflected effort soon after forcing Jonny Tuffey into his first save of the night.

The Glens’ attacking intent, however, improved as play progressed, with McGuigan the main threat.

Glenavon were denied number two by the frame after an exchange between Foley and Burns ended with the former’s low shot bouncing off the base of the post.

Glentoran’s increased pressure sparked a closing spell full of talking points as the visitors turned the tables thanks to McDaid before Daniels’ moment to savour.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Burns, Kelly, Doyle, Marshall, Mitchell, Hall (McGrory, 70), Sykes, Clingan, Foley (Daniels, 85), Singleton.

Subs (not used): Griffin, Marron, Jenkins.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Birney, Allen, McGuigan, McMullan, Davidson (Knowles, 53), Kerr, McNicholl (McDaid, 76), Nelson, Ferrin (McNicholl, 77).

Subs (not used): Stirling, Delaney.

Referee: Raymond Crangle.