Belfast Telegraph

Gary Hamilton can perform great escape: Ronnie McFall

By Stuart McKinley

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall expects his former striker Gary Hamilton to keep Glenavon in the Carling Premiership - even if he wants to make the new Mourneview Park chief's task of avoiding relegation more difficult this afternoon.

And as the Shamrock Park side head to Lurgan in the hope of extending an unbeaten Boxing Day derby record that stretches back to 1996, McFall is glad that Hamilton won't get any further than the bench.

There can be little doubt that the mid-Ulster derby clash has taken on an extra significance with Hamilton in charge of the club he supported as a boy against the team he helped to league title glory a decade ago.

McFall, however, is too long in the tooth to get drawn into any hype that might go along with that.

"Gary Hamilton will improve Glenavon when he's able to play, there is no doubt about that because he's still one of the top players in the league," said McFall.

"It's good for us that he isn't playing, but it's not about individuals or personalities.

"We have to look at the bigger picture rather than focusing on those kind of things and we'll be going out looking for the three points in order to sustain our title challenge because this is an important time of the year.

"From here on in it really hots up and we have to stay in touch at the top of the table."

The Ports failed to take advantage of Linfield's slip up against Lisburn Distillery on Tuesday night as a late strike gave Carrick Rangers what could be a priceless point against McFall's men.

And he is expecting an equally tough battle against Glenavon.

"Carrick are down there and they are fighting for their lives," said McFall.

"Glenavon are in a similar position, although I have no doubt that come the end of the season they will be fine.

"Gary Hamilton is a football man first and foremost. He is young, he is enthusiastic and he has a good knowledge of the game.

"I spoke to him and if he needs any advice he knows where I am."0000

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