Belfast Telegraph

Home is where the hurt is for Gary and Lurgan Blues

By Billy Weir

He may do next to nothing for the personal grooming industry but for those who deal in sound bites and talking points, there are few better than Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton.

After Saturday's 2-0 home defeat by Cliftonville at Mourneview Park, rather than trot out lame excuses or blame the referee, which he could have done because they had a blatant penalty overlooked by Arnold Hunter, he went off on a different tack.

"We lacked quality in the final third and it's becoming a bit of a habit at home," he said.

"I can't remember the last time we played really well for 70, 80 or 90 minutes at Mourneview and, whether being at home is affecting the players, I don't know."

It was an interesting point, but does it stack up?

I have had the 'pleasure' of watching a fair bit of Glenavon over the past few seasons at Mourneview and I can't remember too many occasions where I came out panting and needing a prolonged spell in a darkened room. They haven't broken much delph on their travels either in recent times and it is all a far cry from the early months of the season where it looked as if the Lurgan Blues would challenge Linfield for the title.

Saturday's encounter was the 30th game of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign, and with 15 games gone they were sitting second, a point behind Linfield with a game in hand, which, I think, was the Cliftonville one played on Saturday.

They had 32 points accumulated then, but they have added just another 19 points, 10 of them at home.

And no disrespect to the sides they have played, but two of these three home wins came against Ards, with the only win against a side in the top six a thumping of Coleraine.

They can be an unforgiving crowd at Mourneview, certainly the noises I hear outside the press box are often far from encouraging, but are they really any worse than fans of other clubs?

Over the season as a whole, they tend to buck the trend where teams garner more points at home - they have 26 on their travels, one more than at home - or if you want me to be really boring, they have 1.73 points per game away to 1.67 at home.

And so to tomorrow night and a chance to buck the trend, a home game with Linfield, a repeat of the opening day of the season when the Blues won with the only goal of the game.

If we see Glenavon trotting out of the away dressing room, wearing white, then we'll know what steps are being taken to address the hurt of being at home.

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