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Hamilton eager for Lurgan Blues to rediscover mean streak

Cliftonville 4 Glenavon 2

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Tighten up: Gary Hamilton is worried by sloppy goals

Tighten up: Gary Hamilton is worried by sloppy goals

Tighten up: Gary Hamilton is worried by sloppy goals

For the second week in a row, Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton was delighted with the performance but the bare statistics show they have picked up just one point from the two games and this was their third straight loss away from Mourneview Park.

The Lurgan Blues remain comfortable in third and if they win their match in hand - the return game against Cliftonville - they are still just two points off the top of the Premiership table. But the ace striker knows they have to tighten up their defence if they are to get back on the winning trail. They have conceded 11 goals in their last four league games, after letting in just 14 from their first 14 matches.

"Results are not what we want but I can't say anything about the performance," said Hamilton, who said after the match that Glenavon are expecting an improved bid for midfielder Mark Sykes from Port Vale.

"We were probably the better team for 75 minutes but it's back to the problem of conceding sloppy goals which has been going on for five or six matches."

He has been forced to play James Singleton, a natural wing-back, in central defence for the last couple of matches but Hamilton stood up for his versatile player and young centre-back colleague Caolan Marron.

"If a striker misses a chance it doesn't always cost you a game but if a defender makes a mistake, like the first goal after five minutes, it costs you a goal (Marron let Rory Donnelly in goalside and the in-form striker made no mistake). That can affect a young player's confidence but after that I thought Marron was excellent and beside him I thought James Singleton was our best player.

"Singy has 150 games under his belt and he played at Windsor Park last year at centre-half and we won, he played down here last year at centre-half and we won, so people will look for excuses. He can play anywhere and James was our best player, along with the front two."

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Strikers Andrew Mitchell and Conor McCloskey, in for the injured Stephen Murray, scored Glenavon's goals either side of half-time but Stephen Garrett, with his first goal of the season, headed in the equaliser on the hour and after an incredible four goal-line clearances by Brian Neeson and his Cliftonville defence, Rory Donnelly scored his second and Conor McDonald was rewarded for a superb second-half display with the fourth.

It promoted Cliftonville to fourth place, and although still 10 points behind leaders Ballymena, Garrett said: "The last couple of weeks have been positive but they mean nothing if we don't put a run together. If we perform like the last couple of weeks we will put ourselves in the mix," he said.

Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Harney, A Donnelly, Ives; Garrett, McDonald, Catney, McConnell (R Curran 72; R Donnelly, Gormley.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Marron, Singleton, Doherty; Grace; Hall, Sykes, Daniels (Jenkins 87); McCloskey, Mitchell.

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)

Match rating: 7/10

Man of the Match: Conor McDonald


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