IRISH LEAGUE: Thrilling top-of-the-table draw as 10-man Glenavon fight back to hold leaders Coleraine
Coleraine remain top of the table - but will face few tougher tests of that position at the pinnacle than this thrilling 2-2 draw as 10-man Glenavon battled back twice to salvage a draw.
Coleraine carried the blistering start to the Danske Bank Premiership season into the match as the league leaders’ momentum led to an opening goal on eight minutes.
Glenavon, in contrast, started flat-footed and paid the ultimate price when an innocuous ball forward from inside the Coleraine half caught out the backline and Jamie McGonigle remained alert to race on and slot home as the hosts waited for a whistle.
Glenavon’s post-Halloween horror show continued with a red card on 15 minutes as Josh Carson split open the home defence to release Ian Parkhill and James Singleton saw red for reaching out to hinder the player’s progress.
Jonny Tuffey pulled off two smart saves in the aftermath of the sending-off setback to deny David Ogilby then McGonigle.
Glenavon’s response to the red card showed real character, with Mark Sykes at the heart of the fightback with a determined display which eventually led to an equaliser.
Sykes’ ball to Andrew Mitchell was fed on to Andy Hall. Sykes’ burst forward continued to pick up the pass from Hall in the penalty area and he capped the move with a composed finish.
Tuffey showed strong hands again in first-half injury-time to push away Parkhill’s drive.
The second half started in anticipation and Josh Carson served up an early highlight with a fine individual goal on 52 minutes as one touch helped him create space and another steered the ball inside Tuffey’s right-hand post to put Coleraine back on top.
Josh Daniels and McGonigle each had headed attempts before Tuffey’s free-kick smashed goalwards from deep was attacked by Mitchell but the touch proved off-target on the run.
The game turned on another talking point when, on 77 minutes, Chris Johns raced out to challenge Andy Hall for a ball into the box and the Coleraine goalkeeper appeared to get to it first but was penalised for contact.
Johns picked up a yellow card and Sammy Clingan picked up the ball to convert from the penalty kick.
GLENAVON: Tuffey, Burns, Kelly (Lindsay, 78), Doyle, Marshall, Mitchell (Griffin, 84), Hall, Sykes, Clingan, Daniels, Singleton.
Subs (not used): O’Mahony, Hamilton, McGrory.
COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Ogilby, McCauley, Carson, O’Donnelly, Parkhill, Traynor, McGonigle, McCready (Whiteside, 71).
Subs (not used); Douglas, Smith, Kee, McConaghie.