Cliftonville paid the price as Glenavon claimed all three Danske Bank Premiership points at Solitude this afternoon.
The visitors took the lead on 67 minutes when an error from goalkeeper Brian Neeson forced Jaimie McGovern into a challenge that referee Evan Boyce deemed worthy of the double punishment of a penalty and red card.
Just two minutes after Andy McGrory netted from the spot, Andrew Mitchell pounced to double the Lurgan Blues’ lead – but their advantage was halved almost instantly when Joe Gormley netted his 30th goal of the season.
Home hopes of staging a late comeback were snuffed out with a quarter of an hour remaining, however, when Mitchell bagged his second of the day from close range.
Things might have been different had Cliftonville been able to register the opening goal and they very nearly did that with just six minutes gone when Rory Donnelly’s header played Gormley through but he smashed his volleyed effort just wide of the post.
Neeson made a fine save from a Mark Sykes free-kick before producing incredible acrobatics to stop Joel Cooper from blasting Glenavon in front from close range.
Shortly afterwards at the other end, Donnelly saw a snapshot repelled by Jonny Tuffey as both goalkeepers demonstrated their worth to nullify the respective attacks.
Unfortunately for Neeson, however, his misjudgment of a long ball forward on 66 minutes provided Cooper with an open net. McGovern intervened to turn the ball behind, but the referee pointed to the penalty spot and harshly sent the defender off for his trouble; McGrory making no mistake from 12 yards.
A similar Neeson error laid the groundwork for Mitchell to rifle home the Lurgan Blues’ second shortly afterwards and, though the 10-man hosts reduced the deficit when Gormley converted following wing wizardry from Chris Curran, Mitchell would pop up with his second of the day to seal the points for Glenavon with 16 minutes left to play.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Harney, Curran, Harkin, Gormley, J Donnelly, Grimes, McDonald, R Donnelly. Subs: Dunne, Garrett (McDonald, 78 mins), Winchester (Harkin, 85 mins), Lavery, Cosgrove.