Belfast Telegraph

Gary Hamilton urges Glenavon to keep standards high

 

On rise: Gary Hamilton has been turning things around
On rise: Gary Hamilton has been turning things around

By Alex Mills

Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton believes his boys have raised the bar having achieved back-to-back wins for the first time this season - and he is demanding more of the same against Carrick Rangers at the Loughshore Hotel Arena.

The Lurgan Blues reeled in a crucial six points by defeating current Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield and then Institute to haul themselves clear of the drop zone - both performances were packed with pace, power and passion.

Shrewd Hamilton admits they can't afford to drop their standards against Niall Currie's side, who are merely two points adrift of Glenavon in the table.

"In midweek, the boys carried on where they left off against Linfield," purred Hamilton. "I thought they were exceptional in the first half especially and probably could have been more than three goals in front because we hit the post on three occasions.

"We also did well in the second half, but we made a few changes through tiredness as some boys were coming back from injury and haven't played.

"We got them off and it perhaps upset our rhythm, though that's not to say their replacements didn't make an impact.

"Going into the game, we knew Institute had achieved good results against top teams, we knew it would be tough. But I thought we were comfortable, it was a good three points for us."

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Hamilton is expecting another testing afternoon.

"I don't ever remember having it handy at Carrick Rangers, as a player or manager," he added. "It's always been difficult. I've applauded our boys for achieving two successive wins, but it's now up to them to bring that level of performance into every game.

"We need the same intensity of winning the ball back and showing a hunger all over the pitch to give us the platform to show our ability on the ball.

"It's up to the boys once they cross the line. They can all play, make no mistake about that. It's down to our effort, the tempo we play at and our work off the ball - that's what achieves results."

Hamilton is hoping Andrew Mitchell will be fit after the striker was forced out of the Institute game because of injury.

"Andy came off with a little back strain," he added. "He was feeling it on Friday night as well. It happens, when you stop at half-time sometimes it's hard to get going again. We got him off as a precaution.

"I was pleased with Stephen Murray, who got two of our goals against Institute. He had been going through a difficult spell in front of goal as all strikers do.

"He usually does well against Institute, so that was in my thinking of including him.

"I knew I wasn't going to be playing, I was knackered after the Linfield game, so he was the ideal replacement.

"At last, after all the injury problems, I now have a bit of competition for places. Our intensity and passion were there in abundance in the last two games.

"I thought our two wide men (Kyle Beggs and Josh Daniels) were excellent and the two central midfielders were great. Rhys Marshall produced his usual Rolls Royce display with Ribs (Robbie Garrett) giving an honest shift."

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