Linfield beat Glenavon for the second time in three weeks to extend their lead at the top of the Carling Premiership to five points — then showed compassion by loaning their struggling rivals two gifted players.
Experienced central defender Kris Lindsay and talented midfield starlet Brian McCaul are heading for Mourneview Park until the end of the season to help new boss Gary Hamilton drag the Lurgan outfit clear of the relegation dogfight.
A third player — Marcus Kane — could also be on his way to join them.
Pistol Pete Thompson rifled the Blues in front after 62 minutes and Rory Patterson, another comeback star, completed the job two minutes from time.
The hard earned win had Linfield boss David Jeffrey cock-a-hoop heading into the New Year but he remained in philosophical mood regarding Lindsay and McCaul.
He insisted neither were being ditched and went to great pains to explain what he described as a win, win situation for both clubs.
He emphasised: “Sometimes a loan spell can spell the end for players but that could not be further from the truth in this instance.
“Kris is an established player who has suffered horrendous injuries throughout his career and this is a great opportunity for him.
“He has recovered from a cruciate knee injury, a smashed cheek bone and a very bad back injury.
“He’s got himself fit again and, with regular football, can prove to himself as well as to us, that he is ready for another campaign.
“My simple message to him is to go and do the business with Glenavon and there is a contract waiting for you at Windsor.
“And Kris has confirmed that if there is a contract waiting for him with Linfield, he’ll sign it.”
Brian McCaul is different. He’s a young player whose first team opportunities have been limited because more experienced players like Michael Gault, Robert Garrett and Jamie Mulgrew are ahead of him in the pecking order.
But Jeffrey insisted: “He’s a superb kid, a fitness fanatic and very talented. This move is to try and develop his ability and we’re letting him go without weakening our squad.
“It’s about looking ahead and planning for the future. It’s a win, win situation for both clubs.”
New Glenavon player boss Hamilton refused to camouflage his delight at landing the pair and revealed: “I watched Brian in a reserve match against Glentoran and, within five minutes, knew he was a player.
“If he was with any other Irish League club he would be playing every week.
“I look upon this as a great bit of business in this window.
“It’s an opportunity for Brian to prove himself and maybe return to Linfield.”
Hamilton also plans to make his seasonal debut for his hometown club alongside Lindsay and McCaul against Lisburn Distillery on Saturday.
But he confided: “I’d rather not have been making my debut because it would have meant we had got a result against Linfield.
“As it is, I’ll try and fit in a reserve game this week ahead of Saturday’s game.”
Hamilton has other targets, which is why he has allowed Ryan Harpur to join Dungannon Swifts and is releasing former Newry City midfielder Alan Davidson and possibly striker Diarmuid O’Carroll, too.
He said: “O’Carroll’s contract has expired and we offered him a new one but not the same as he was on. He’s talking to two clubs and the likelihood is he will join one of the two.”