Guy Bates enjoys the last laugh as old pals lose thriller as Glenavon visit Linfield
Linfield 4-3 Glenavon
Former Glenavon striker Guy Bates was the target for the visiting boo boys in this Windsor Park thriller, but the big Geordie had the last laugh.
The 29-year-old made the controversial move to Linfield over the summer, even though he insisted his would rejoin the Lurgan club on his return from a short spell in Australia.
The small pocket of Glenavon fans certainly let Bates know how they they felt.
Although he didn't manage to get on the score sheet, the big man's contribution to this Linfield success was immense.
"I had an unbelievable two years at Mourneview Park. It was a special time in my life," said Bates. "I can say that with all sincerity. The board of directors, the fans and the management team were all fantastic to me.
"But I've moved on, so I expected I would take a bit of stick. It was a bit of fun and a bit of craic at times. They came to give me a rough ride. But it was still nice to see a lot of old friends."
Glenavon took nine points off the Blues last season and it looked like that jinx would continue when Kyle Neill curled in a 34th minute corner kick.
But the prolific Andy Waterworth shot Warren Feeney's side level just before the break before Kirk Millar added a second just after the turnaround.
Waterworth struck again which looked to be the clincher, but this Glenavon team just don't know when they are beaten as they showed in the late revival against Portadown in midweek.
Skipper Kris Lindsay pulled one back and Eoin Bradley deflected home Andy Kilmartin's shot 10 minutes from time.
It looked good enough to earn Gary Hamilton's team a share of the spoils until big Mark Haughey rose highest to meet a Millar corner kick and his header flashed past Johnny Tuffey.
"It was a super game of football," added Bates. "I thought we showed real character to come back from 1-0 down . . . and then to score the winner when Glenavon brought it back to 3-3.
"It shows what a good team Glenavon are. They pushed us right to the end. It also showed the battling qualities we have in this team. We have a lot of winners in that dressing room . . . there are a lot of big characters.
"We have a never-say-die attitude that we take into every game. Other teams would perhaps have let their heads drop by surrendering a 3-1 lead.
"Yes, we were bitterly disappointed, but we dug in and were rewarded when big Haughey produced that fantastic header right at the finish.
"I was just delighted to get the three points - and not because it was against Glenavon. I take a lot of satisfaction getting three points regardless of the opposition. There are no easy games in this league."
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton felt his boys deserved better.
"Linfield didn't achieve what they wanted last season in terms of their trophy challenge, so they spent big over the summer," he said "Bringing in Bates was a perfect example. Obviously, he was with us before he left for Australia. We brought him up from the League of Ireland.
"On his return, he told us that Linfield were interested. But he was offered terms that we couldn't even go near to matching.
"I'm not blaming anyone, we simply didn't have the resources to go near to offering him a contract. That's the way it is . . .
"Our boys may be on a smaller budget, but I think we matched Linfield all over the park. It's wonderful what desire and hard work can get you.
"And, we have a fair amount of quality as well. I really couldn't fault the players. But when you score three goals at Windsor Park you would expect to come away with at least a draw."