Injury-time thrills as Glenavon rescue point at Portadown
Portadown and Glenavon supporters, having had to wait so long for a return to a Mid-Ulster derby crowd, were served up injury-time drama to kick off the Premiership campaign with honours even after a thrilling finale.
On 91 minutes, Paul Finnegan sparked wild celebrations within the Shamrock Park crowd by slotting home with a close-range finish off Ruairi Croskery’s low cross with what proved the home side’s first shot on target.
However, moments later it was the turn of the away supporters to cheer when former Northern Ireland international Michael O’Connor stepped up to curl home a sublime free-kick and rescue a point.
And Portadown had to survive a late penalty box scramble before the final whistle signalled a point apiece.
Matthew Fitzpatrick sent Danny Purkis into space early on, only for the forward to drag wide from a great position.
Portadown had back-to-back blocks in the penalty box around 20 minutes to thank for a clean sheet to frustrate Glenavon’s Peter Campbell and Kyle Beggs.
Ports goalkeeper Harry Doherty had been commanding under Glenavon’s set-piece pressure and closed the half with a fine instinctive save to stop James Singleton’s header off a Campbell corner-kick.
Doherty was called into action early in the second half after a Fitzpatrick pass was fired goalwards by Matthew Snoddy.
Croskery came close to a late winner when Mark Haughey’s clearance looped up in the air and was attacked by the Ports player on the edge of the penalty area before the advancing goalkeeper Declan Brown could connect - but it looped over towards the inviting net and bounced off the post.
Then came the late, late derby drama...
PORTADOWN: Doherty, Hall, Ruddy, McCallum, Finnegan, Tipton, Bonis, Jackson (Salley, 88), Croskery, Teggart, McLeod.
Subs (not used): Brown, McKeown, Conaty, Glenfield, Murphy, Creighton.
GLENAVON: Brown, Haughey, O’Connor, Purkis (Waterworth, 61), Campbell, Beggs (Doyle, 71), Snoddy, Fitzpatrick, Wallace, Singleton, Ward.
Subs: Hall, Harmon, O’Mahony, Doyle, Garrett.
Referee: Ian McNabb.
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