Cliftonville 1-1 Glenavon
Cliftonville were forced to settle for a draw from this evening’s Danske Bank Premiership encounter with Glenavon.
After controlling the first-half without being able to make the breakthrough, the Reds fell behind when Andrew Doyle stroked the Lurgan Blues in front just before the hour.
The hosts’ response was almost immediate, however, as Jay Donnelly took advantage of defensive indecision to level matters ahead of Cliftonville carving out the best opening for a winner when Joe Gormley teed up Rory Donnelly, whose close-range effort was superbly kept out by goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey.
Even aside from that chance, things might have been different had the Reds been able to make the most of the foothold they garnered early on.
After Jay Donnelly had been unable to make the most of a miscue from Tuffey, Stephen Garrett fired a drive straight at the keeper before being denied by a last-ditched challenge by Doyle.
Gormley then sent an effort over the top and, following good work from Conor McDonald, Jay Donnelly’s attempt to get a shot away in a crowded penalty area was undone by Caolan Marron.
With Cliftonville looking the most likely to forge ahead, Jay Donnelly was next to call Tuffey into action before Glenavon’s only opportunity of the first-half saw Brian Neeson touch Mark Sykes’ free-kick over the bar.
Jamie Harney tried his luck with an overhead kick and, in a bright start to the second period, Gormley blasted a strike wide ahead of Jay Donnelly getting too much on his attempt to pick out Garrett in the middle.
Against the run of play, however, it was the visitors who broke the stalemate when Doyle claimed possession on the edge of the box and coolly found the bottom corner with an eye-catching finish.
Cliftonville responded well to that unmerited setback and restored parity soon later when Jay Donnelly forced Marron into an error and made the most of Tuffey’s hesitancy to fire home.
Elder brother Rory then looked poised to put the hosts in front only for a fine save to deny him and, as the clock ticked down, both teams could have won it with Marc Griffin and Sykes off target for Glenavon either side of Chris Curran fizzing a strike just past the post.
Cliftonville: Neeson, Ives, Breen, Harney, Curran, Garrett, Gormley, J Donnelly, Lavery, Cosgrove, McDonald. Subs: Dunne, McGovern, Winchester (J Donnelly, 76 mins), Grimes, R Donnelly (Lavery, 66 mins).
Match Sponsor: Sean McClean
Matchball Sponsor: Colin Simpson
Sean Graham Man of the Match: Stephen Garrett
Half Gate Draw Number: 75179