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McIlwaine is eager to haunt Glenavon once again

By Laure James

Josh McIlwaine is gunning for more goals against Glenavon tonight in the Premiership's re-arranged match at Ferney Park, but this time he hopes there will be no arguments over who's on the scoresheet.

The Ballinamallard United ace came off the bench to score on his debut against the Lurgan Blues three years ago, after the referee declared that he had bundled the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble.

"I got a lot of stick for claiming that was my goal," the striker laughed. "It got cleared up after the game, but it probably wasn't my goal at all. I may have had some stick in the past, but there's no doubting it when I score now.

"Glenavon have a lot of quality in their team, in all positions, and I do think they could beat anyone on their day. But they've not had the best luck and we're feeling very confident.

"We're turning things around for ourselves after some big changes at the club, and we're in good shape. We'll be after three points as we always are, especially at home during the week."

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton welcomes Joel Cooper, Rhys Marshall and James Singleton back from suspension, but will be without Ciaran Martyn, who was sent off in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Linfield.

McIlwaine, 22, netted both goals in the Mallards' 2-1 win over Carrick Rangers on Friday night and despite a bolstered visiting attack, is keen to harness his own momentum.

The ex-Northern Ireland Schoolboys international left Ferney Park shortly after his senior debut to enrol as a university student in Liverpool, but returned to the reserves and was drafted in by former manager Whitey Anderson for the relegation play-off against Institute last year.

"I was really excited to be involved. I came on for a few minutes at the end, but the whole buzz beforehand was memorable," he recalled.

"From being so close to going down to the Championship, then for me, coming into the senior squad from the reserves to stay in the top division was quite something.

"I was really nervous, I remember, but very happy. I had to take it step by step during the summer and wait to see if there was a place for me in the squad, so I'm very happy now.

"I am much more confident as a player, especially since I started out, and I think that shows."

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