Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon must react to Ballymena defeat, demands boss Hamilton


By Billy Weir

Gary Hamilton has urged his Glenavon players to bounce back and get 2018 off to a winning start.

The old year ended with a 3-1 defeat at Ballymena United but they have the chance to put things right this evening with a trip to play Ards.

He knows it will be no easy task having been heavily defeated by the north Down men on their previous visit to Bangor but refuses to be too critical of his players after what has been a superb first-half to the campaign.

"We didn't show up in the second-half (at Ballymena) and the boys are disappointed but we have to remember we've been on a very good run and playing well," he said.

"It's a credit to them where they are at this minute in time. At the turn of the year to be sitting in third position is a credit to them and nobody would have thought that.

"(Going to Ards) is another big game and to draw against Warrenpoint is a decent result because in my opinion outside of Coleraine and Crusaders this year, Warrenpoint have been the best team I've seen going forward by a long distance.  They've been excellent.

"We got tanked by Ards 4-0 in the League Cup so it's not going to be an easy game for us and the boys have to show a reaction and bounce back after Saturday."

His cause has been helped by the arrival of Stephen Murray from Warrenpoint Town to boost his striking options, although the 29-year-old is not eligible to make his debut.

It is shaping up to be the most enthralling and intriguing title race in years, and although Saturday's blip hit their chances, Hamilton knows that given the competitive nature throughout the league, there will be plenty more shocks for everyone before ribbons are dangling off the Gibson Cup.

"We want to see where we are at the end of January/start of February and then you can assess where you want to go to," he explained.

"We want to win as many games as possible until then and you have the Irish Cup in between as well so we'll see where we're at. We'd love to give ourselves a chance of getting into the second or third position come the split but there are so many good teams up there at the minute, you've got Cliftonville, Linfield, Crusaders and Coleraine, and it's going to be difficult.

"It's great for the neutral, players and everybody else but I said at the start of the season our aim is to get in to Europe and based on where we at this moment we would been there in any other season but this season you're not guaranteed that with the way things have gone."

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