Just days after giving his players a verbal lashing in public, Donegal Celtic boss Pat McAllister had only words of praise for his basement battlers following victory over a blunt Glenavon.
In three frantic final minutes Celtic could have scored four goals but Andy Coleman pulled off three breath-taking saves.
On the one occasion Coleman was beaten, it was by veteran striker Paul McVeigh in the 68th minute.
Grabbing his sixth goal of the season, McVeigh sent a glancing header past Coleman after meeting Conor Downey’s perfectly measured cross.
It was the return of former Linfield star Paul McAreavey that gave the home side the edge at a bitterly cold Celtic Park.
It’s been almost two years since McAreavey started a Premier League game after a hip injury threatened to end his career.
By the 74th minute he had largely guided the Wee Hoops to a victorious response to last Saturday’s 5-0 crushing at Glentoran and headed for the bench.
The win moves Celtic to within three points of 10th place Dungannon Swifts.
“It was an immense performance — our determination was top drawer and our fitness was superb,” said McAllister.
“It was all about getting pride back for the shirt and the club.
“I put the players under pressure after the Glentoran game and they put two fingers up to me with this performance. Now we have to do it consistently.”
Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar said the team “simply wasn’t good enough”.
“We came expecting to get a result from what is a bread and butter game and the boys let themselves down,” he added.
Donegal Celtic: Connolly, Bradley, Burns, McAreavey (Devine 74), McVeigh, Gargan, McShane, Keegan, Downey, Deans, Miskimmin. Subs: McNamee, McAllister, Hughes, Todd.
Glenavon: Coleman, McCallion (Bennett 78), Haughey, Kilmartin, Doherty (McCashin 20), Bates, Lindsay, McGrory, Turkington (Hagan 68), Henderson, Hamilton. Subs: Ballard, McDaid.
Referee: Mervyn Smyth.