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Glenavon's Cooper urging his side to hit Europa League jackpot

 

By Alex Mills

Glenavon's Joel Cooper believes his team are in the best possible shape ahead of the money-spinning Europa League shoot-out with Ballymena United at the Warden Street Showgrounds on Friday night.

Gary Hamilton's boys produced one of the most impressive performances of the season to rack up a thumping 5-3 win in Monday's semi-final clash against Cliftonville at Solitude.

Flying winger Cooper is now hoping the Lurgan Blues can finish the job, which would earn the club around £200k.

In many ways it was a nostalgic night for Glenavon. Their fans paid tribute to the late Tony Scappaticci, who wore the Lurgan Blues' No.3 jersey with pride for many years.

It was during a one minute applause - in the third minute - that Rhys Marshall headed the visitors into the lead, which ultimately lit the fuse for an eight-goal thriller.

"It was a mad game," said Cooper. "You couldn't have written the script for us scoring in the third minute.

"I suppose the entertainment value was great for any neutrals in the crowd. However, it wouldn't have been recommended for either manager.

"Not too many teams go to Solitude and hit five goals, but they struggled to deal with our set piece routines throughout.

"All the goals came from set pieces - three corner kicks, a free-kick and a penalty. We just hurled balls into the area and they couldn't deal with them. Thankfully it paid off."

Cooper admits there will be a lot of pressure on both Glenavon and Ballymena in Friday night's winner-takes-all affair.

"There is a lot at stake for both teams," he added.

"The financial benefits are massive. It will have a huge effect on next season's budget for both clubs.

"Ballymena did superbly well against Dungannon in the other semi-final so there could be quite a few goals. We'll just have to go there and go for it."

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