Portadown striker Darren Murray insisted his team felt rather deprived after this thriller in the energy-sapping Shamrock Park mud – not by the officials, but by fate.
“It feels like a defeat rather than a draw,” he commented after the Ports went ahead three times, only to be foiled by equalisers each time – none more galling than the added-time penalty from Eoin Bradley after the same player had been hauled down by keeper David MI skelly.
Nobody was arguing that it was indeed a spot-kick. MI skelly was red-carded after he dived bravely at Bradley’s feet, although he simply couldn’t have stopped his momentum in the slime.
It took all of four minutes before the substitutes situation was sorted out, but Bradley held his nerve during the wait and hammered the ball home, giving stand-in man Billy Brennan no chance.
“It certainly was hard to take,” said Murray. “We were the better side overall and deserved the points. But things haven’t been going our way during December and we’ve gained only one point from the last nine. But we’ll turn things round.”
Bradley insisted, though, that any team with the character to fight back three times deserved something from the game, “and that’s what we got. We could have won it, especially with our second-half fight-back, but it was a real thriller in front of a tremendous crowd.”
And Murray pleaded, “We’d really appreciate it if that crowd turned out every match to cheer us on. What an atmosphere.”
Murray and Bradley opened the account for their respective sides, with Murray clipping home a Peter McMahon pass on the half-hour, and Bradley doing likewise with a Kevin Banff assist seven minutes later.
Man of the Match Mark McAllister hit home something of a gift in the 45th minutes when he pounced on a high cross which deceived keeper James McGrath and he pooped it home at the far post.
Glenavon’s golden spell came at the start of the second-half and they drew level again through Ciaran Caldwell, who pounced on a loose clearance and side-footed superbly from about 15 years.
But the Ports rallied and McAllister rounded off a slick four-man move when he swept onto a rebound from a Sean Mackle shot and it looked as is the Ports would have the Mid Ulster boasting rights. But that penalty incident deep into extra time made it a point apiece.
PORTADOWN: MIskelly (Brennan 90), Casement, Redman, Ramsey, Breen, McMahon (Twigg 74), Mackle, Murray, McAllister, Gault, Garrett (Mouncey 66). Subs:P (Not Used) Lyttle, Conaty.
GLENAVON:P McGrath, Neill (Patton 74), Murphy, Bradley, Dillon, Caldwell, Marshall (Forsyth 86) Braniff, McCabe, Martyn, Singleton. Subs- (Not Used) Lindsay, Kilmartin, Sykes.
REFEREE: Ross Dunlop.