Revitalised goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey loving Glenavon life despite loss to Crusaders
Crusaders 1-0 Glenavon
Glenavon goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey has revealed he is playing with a smile on his face again.
The 28-year-old may have ended on the losing side against Crusaders on Saturday, but his performance was nothing short of sensational.
He could do little about Paul Heatley's third-minute winner. The Football Writers' Player of the Year gobbled up a Richard Clarke pass and held off challenges from Rhys Marshall and Gareth McKeown before drilling the ball low and hard beyond Tuffey.
But after that, the former Northern Ireland shot-stopper came out on top in a personal duel with the in-form winger.
He repelled everything the little Crues ace could muster, with possibly his best moment coming before the break when he beat away a full-blooded volley.
"That's what I'm there for," said Tuffey, who was surprisingly shown the exit door by Linfield in the summer.
"Crusaders play a system that is very effective. You expect to be busy when you come here.
"Apart from the early goal, everything else went for me and I managed to make a few decent saves. I was happy enough with my own performance, but disappointed with the result."
Tuffey credits Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton for his new lease of life. He added: "Last year was frustrating, but I was given a great opportunity by Gary at Glenavon. A large part of me wants to just repay the faith that he has shown in me.
"I worked tremendously hard with our goalkeeping coach Reggie Hillen from early summer and that has helped get me back to where I need to be.
"We are only 16 games in, so there is an awful lot of hard work up ahead, but I'm enjoying my football again. I'm playing with a smile on my face.
"The things that previously annoyed me are out of my system. I'm working hard and I'm playing every week, so I can't ask for any more.
"Glenavon is a great club, with a great bunch of lads in the dressing room.
"I think it's testament to Gary and Paul Millar what they have created at the club. They have recently added Bryan McLoughlin and he has come up with new ideas that the lads have bought in to."
CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Robinson, McClean, Carvill (Forsythe, 80 mins), Snoddy, Clarke, Owens, Heatley, O'Carroll (Mitchell, 89 mins). Unused subs: Stewart, Molloy, O'Flynn.
Glenavon: Tuffey, McKeown, Neill, Kelly, Kilmartin (O'Brien, 90 mins), Marshall, Bradley, Hall, Patton (Kearns, 73 mins), Sykes, Braniff. Unused subs: Cooper, McGroy, Buckley.
Man of the match: Jonny Tuffey
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Donatas Rumsas (Lithuania)