Glentoran up to second as Portadown grab late victory and Glenavon win thriller
Second half goals from Ruaidhri Donnelly and Ciaran O’Connor against Cliftonville propelled Glentoran up to second place in the Danske Bank Premiership.
After a low key first half the key sprung into life after the break as Reds old boy Donnelly fire the Glens in front.
And O’Connor’s late strike saw Mick McDermott’s men leapfrog Coleraine in the table.
It was a lively enough start at Solitude as both teams tried to get on top but with neither side really threatened to open the scoring.
The Glens threw on Robbie McDaid and he had an immediate impact as he combined with Andrew Mitchell and Jay Donnelly to lay a easy tap in on for Ruaidhri Donnelly against his former employers.
His brother then tried to get in on the act, but his dipping shot from 35 yards flew inches over the bar.
The Glens did seal the win late on as Ciaran O’Connor reacted quickest to slot home after Aaron McCarey could only parry Donnelly’s effort.
At Shamrock Park Larne should have taken an early lead after Marty Donnelly picked out Dean Jarvis from a set-piece, but the defender headed over from close range.
Jeff Hughes managed to get his header on target soon after, but it was straight at Ports keeper Jacob Carney.
That miss proved costly as the hosts broke the deadlock with 28 minutes gone.
Stephen Murray’s clever flick was latched upon by Stephen Teggart, who fizzed a spectacular shot into the top corner.
They should have doubled their advantage as Ben Guy broke free before rounding Conor Devlin, but the midfielder let fly from 30 yards and his effort sailed over the empty net.
Just before half time the visitors were handed a golden opportunity to level things up after Tomas Cosgrove was adjudged to have been pulled back in the box.
But that man Carney proved his worth yet again with an excellent save to push away Andy Mitchell’s penalty.
The second half continued in a similar vein as Carney reacted well to deny Hale again before Luke Wade-Slater had a shot blocked by a home defender.
The pressure finally told as Josh Robinson tapped home from a Mark Randall corner on 62 minutes.
The Inver Park side were then denied by the woodwork as John Herron got on the end of another Randall corner.
Tiernan Lynch’s side had dominated the second half but they were hit with a late sucker punch as Lee Bonis pounced on a Randall error to snatch the win for the hosts.
It was Glenavon who broke the deadlock at Milltown with in-form striker Matthew Fitzpatrick finding the net again.
Colm Deasy lost possession to Peter Campbell, and it proved costly as his cross found Fitzpatrick who made no mistake with the finish.
And they doubled their advantage on 19 minutes as Fitzpatrick beat Coleman to a Sean Ward cross, and nodded down for Danny Purkis to score.
Remarkably though it was the hosts to find the net next as Deasy’s deep cross into the box was headed hom by Ryan Swan to give the Point a much-needed boost.
But that hope didn’t last long as Glenavon restored their two-goal advantage as Danny Wallace put through his own goal from a Campbell cross.
It went from bad to worse for the home side as Purkis was upended in the box by Daniel Byrne, and the striker slotted home the spot kick to make it 4-1.
Unbelievably we had a sixth goal of the game 45 seconds into the second half as Adam Carroll reacted quickest to slot home after Swan’s effort hit the post.
And Gray’s men pulled another back on 50 minutes as Fra McCaffrey fired home.
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