United maintain upward momentum with point at Glenavon

Ballymena United goalkeeper Alan Blayney punches clear from a corner during tonight's Danske Bank Premiership match at Glenavon. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena United goalkeeper Alan Blayney punches clear from a corner during tonight's Danske Bank Premiership match at Glenavon. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena United stretched their unbeaten run under David Jeffrey to four games with a 1-1 draw at Glenavon tonight.

Johnny Taylor’s first half header for United was cancelled out by Ciaran Martyn’s goal early in the second half as the Sky Blues secured their third draw against top six opposition since Jeffrey took over last month.

Johnny Taylor is congratulated after putting Ballymena United ahead at Glenavon. Picture: Press Eye.

Johnny Taylor is congratulated after putting Ballymena United ahead at Glenavon. Picture: Press Eye.

The manager showed faith in the 10 men who performed so heroically in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Cliftonville, with David Cushley, back from suspension, replacing Gavin Taggart - who began a nine-game ban following his red card at the weekend - in their only enforced change.

Glenavon began with all the confidence of a team which has reached the Tennants Irish Cup final and United had to rely upon early goal-line clearances from Stephen McBride and Kyle McVey as the home side piled on the pressure.

And if those two players were performing the role expected of them, it was another of their defensive colleagues who struck the decisive blow at the other end of the pitch as centre-back Johnny Taylor volleyed home from Tony Kane’s cross after a short corner, in United’s first meaningful attack.

Glenavon struck back early in the second half as Ciaran Martyn had levelled the scores, firing home from close range after Elebert had seen his header blocked.

Soon afterwards, Andy Hall spurned a great chance to put the Lurgan Blues ahead when he sliced wide of the far post, while Northern Ireland under-21 international Joel Cooper had an effort deflected off target.

Taylor could have scored his and United’s second midway through the second half when he met Tony Kane’s corner but he couldn’t get a proper connection and ended up shouldering the ball over.

In a rare foray into an attacking position, David Cushley fired a shot on target but it was straight at Johnny Tuffey.

United had to weather some Glenavon pressure late in the game but they held on for a point which moves them closer to Premiership safety ahead of their first post-’split’ game at Dungannon on Saturday.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Dillon, Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Hall, Sykes, McGrory, Braniff, Martyn, Elebert. Subs: Lindsay, Patton, Kelly, Marron, McGrath.

Ballymena United: Blayney, Ervin, McVey, Taylor, McBride, T Kane, Thompson, Cushley, Frazer (sub Henderson 65), Faulkner, Jenkins, Subs (not used): Nelson, McNally, Ruddy, Hanley

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)