Coleraine and Glenavon served up a real Christmas cracker at Mourneview Park on Saturday.
The game had everything - spectacular goals, controversial decisions and a dramatic finale.
It looked as though Coleraine had been robbed of a deserved win when referee Keith Kennedy awarded a controversial penalty to the Lurgan Blues right at the death.
Former Bannsiders Eoin Bradley made it 2-2 at the second attempt after Michael Doherty saved his initial effort.
But some 38 seconds later Neil McCafferty’s delightful pass released Ian Parkhill, who coolly slotted past James McGrath to seal the win in dramatic fashion.
The first half was a story of two spectacular chances. The first of those forced Michael Doherty to be at his very best to keep out Glenavon player/manager Gary Hamilton’s stunning volley.
Chesting the ball down 35 yard outs, he didn’t need a second invitation to launch a dipping effort at goal but, just too close to keeper Doherty, who pulled off an equally impressive save to tip it over.
At the other end, James McGrath couldn’t pull off similar heroics. From over 30 yards out, Coleraine midfielder Neil McCafferty curled a perfect free-kick right into the bottom corner. McGrath was a mere spectator.
Gary Hamilton will have demanded better at half-time and his side took just two minutes to deliver.
The boss was heavily involved as it was his cross that set up Kris Lindsay for a close range effort that was blocked and flipped up into the air. Ciaran Martyn’s header looked to have been cleared off the line by Lyndon Kane but, according the referee’s assistant, it had just crept over.
They were level for just nine minutes as winger Shane McGinty lashed Coleraine back into the lead. He surged in on the right side of the box and unleashed a superb finish across McGrath and into the top corner.
Glenavon pressed for the equaliser and looked to have got a share of the spoils when Bradley converted after Doherty had stopped his weak penalty.
But even that wasn’t to be enough as the Blues switched off at the back and Ian Parkhill certainly made them pay.
GLENAVON: McGrath, Marshall, Lindsay, Dillon, McKeown, Hamilton, Martyn, Kilmartin (McCabe 73), McGrory (Caldwell 46), Braniff (Patton 73), Bradley.
Unused Subs: Neill, McNally.
Booked: Braniff (58), Lindsay (75), McCabe (93)
COLERAINE: Doherty, Mullan, Douglas, Ogilby, Kane, McNeill (Miskimmin 82), McCafferty, Beverland, McGinty, McCauley (Browne 22 (Canning 92)), Parkhill.
Unused Subs: Hegarty, Watt.
Booked: Ogilby (27, 91), Mullan (76), McGinty (81).