Lurgan Mail Sports Editor Gary Ellis interviewed Gary Hamilton after the game in which Glenavon were unlucky not to come away from Shamrock Park with at least a point after putting in a battling performance.
Glenavon had put Portadown under considerable pressure with a number of corners but the home side went ahead in the 25th minute from the penalty spot. Gary Twigg’s header from Robert Garrett’s cross had rebounded off the bar and as the Portadown striker and James Singleton challenged for the loose ball, Referee Andrew Davey adjudged that the young Glenavon full back had fouled the striker. Chris Casement hammered the spot kick past Alan Blaney to put the home side in front.
The Ports went 2-0 ahead in the 35th minute when Peter McMahon sped down the right wing, crossed to the penalty spot where McAllister laid it back to Twigg. Blayney was unable to hold the striker’s shot and Sean Mackle was quick enough to nip in a stroke in the rebound.
Rhys Marshall pulled a goal back in the 44th minute, firing into the roof of the net from close range. The move had started with Ciaran Caldwell picking up the ball in the centre of the park, playing it out to Kyle Neill who crossed to the near post where Ciaran Martyn helped it on to the far post.
The home side restored their two goal cushion just four minutes into the second half when Blayney dropped Redman’s corner and McAllister forced the ball over the line after an initial effort by Tim Mouncey had been blocked on the line by Marshall.
Winkie Murphy beat David Miskelly to Gareth McKeown’s long throw in the 60th minute but his header hit the top of the Ports crossbar. Braniff then drew a good save from Miskelly but a minute later the Ports keeper was beaten when Eoin Bradley smashed in a low shot to the bottom corner from 22 yards in the 72nd minute to give Glenavon another foothold in the game.
Moments later McAllister broke but his shot was well blocked by Conor Dillon as he failed to lay the ball back to an unmarked Twigg. The frantic action continued with substitute Gary Hamilton slipping the ball into the box for Caldwell but Miskelly was bravely out at his feet to smother the ball.
After Kyle Neill’s free kick rebounded off the wall Braniff dinked the ball back into the box, Neill crossed from the right side of the Ports box and Hamilton went down as he tried to turn the ball in at the back post but his claims for a penalty were waved away.
Miskelly made a superb save to stop and hold onto a fierce drive from Braniff in the 87th minute.
Keith O’Hara was sent off for a high challenge on Ciaran Martyn in the 88th minute right on the edge of the Reds box as he burst onto a pass from Hamilton. Andy McGrory actually fired the ball into the net but it seemed the referee had already blown for the high tackle.
With Glenavon unable to capitalise on the following free kick, ten man Portadown were able to see the rest of the game out to regain top spot on goal difference, with Cliftonville losing at Seaview and Linfield being held to a draw by Glentoran at Windsor Park.
Portadown: Miskelly, Casement, Redman, O’Hara, Breen, P McMahon, Mackle, McMallister, Mouncey, Twigg, Garrett. Subs: Brennan, Ramsey, Conaty, Lyttle, M McMahon
Glenavon: Blayney, McKeown, Neill, Murphy, Bradley, Dillon, Caldwell, Marshall, Braniff, Martyn, Singleton. Subs: Kilmartin, Hamilton, McGrory, McNally, Hoey