Three enforced changes for Glenavon with injuries sustained on Satruday keeping out Simon Kelly, Paddy McCourt and Declan O’Brien. Their replacements are Kris Lindsay, Andy Hall and Greg Moorhouse.
After a poor first half which saw Glenavon outplayed by a Ballymena side clearly out to put their heavy opening day defeat behind them the hosts went into the interval deservedly leading 2-0.
A resurgent Glenavon started the second period brightly but just as Gary Hamilton’s men looked to be getting a grip on the game they were hit by a sucker punch which saw the Sky Blues former Limavady United striker Cathair Friel race onto a through ball from his fellow striker Johnny McMurray and empathically thump the ball past Johnny Tuffey to make it 3-0.
As they have proved many times since Hamilton took the reigns at Mourneview, his sides never know when they are beaten and they proved that once again in a thrilling comeback that earned a well-deserved point. Guy Bates got the recovery underway with a penalty after Greg Moorhouse was felled rather needlessly by Johnny Flynn and the young striker got his own name on the score-sheet when he headed in a sublime cross from right-back Rhys Marshall before substitute Ciaran Martyn swept in the equaliser 16 minutes from time.
With the home side now feeling the pressure it looked like Glenavon might go on and take all three points but David Jeffrey’s side rallied and but for a fantastic save by Tuffey they could have had their first win of the season.
Early pressure from Ballymena is rewarded with a goal from centre half Kyle Owens who rose to power a downward header past Jonny Tuffey from a Tony Kane corner in the 13th minute.
Owens doubled the lead in the 39th minute with another header from a Kane corner. This time he rose at the back post after Lindsay’s back header had put Tuffey under pressure and he was forced to dive at the feet of Cathair Friel and concede the corner.
Lindsay was booked in the 41st minute and replaced a minute later by Andrew Doyle.
Glenavon pressing at the start of the second half but caught by a quick break by Friel who raced down the right before cutting inside Doyle and blasting past Tuffey from inside the box in the 52nd minute.
Four minutes later Guy Bates smashed a penalty past Ross Glendinning after Johnny Flynn was adjudged to have brought down Moorhouse.
Ciaran Martyn replaced Mark Sykes in the 59th minute.
Greg Moorhouse added a goal to his earlier assist when he headed in from Rhys Marsall’s superb cross in the 69th minute for his first goal for Glenavon.
Martyn somehow manages to sweep the ball past Glendinning as a shot from subsitute Gary Hamilton is blocked and spins to him near the penalty spot.
Kane hits a tremendous volley from just outside the box which is heading for the top corner until Tufffey pulls off a fantastic save.
Gary Hamilton has a late chance to win it for his side as Hall’s deflected shot finds him at the far post but the player-manager’s shot is blocked.
Ballymena: Glendinning, Kane, Owens, Flynn, Friel, Wallace, Thompson, Jenkins, Ervin (c), Millar, McMurray. Subs: Blaney (GK), Henderson, McCloskey, Kane, Johnston.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Lindsay, Elebert, Patton, Hall, Kilmartin, Sykes, Cooper, Moorhouse, Bates. Subs: Hamilton, Doyle, McGrory, Martyn, Burns
Referee: Tim Marshall