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Glenavon aiming for more Euro days like this as Van Morrison backs Lurgan Blues

By Graham Luney

Andy Hall accepts Glenavon have another mountain to climb in the Europa League tonight but he is daring to dream ahead of the rematch with Molde FK.

The Lurgan Blues recorded a stunning 2-1 victory over the Norwegian big guns in the first leg of their Europa League first round qualifier at Mourneview Park and if they could complete the job it would be one of the greatest Irish League triumphs on the continent.

Molde, managed by Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, are expected to throw everything at Gary Hamilton's side but the visitors arrived in Norway with something to fight for.

And the Glenavon travelling party received an unexpected good luck message from a well known Ulsterman as legendary singer Van Morrison was staying in the same hotel.

Van, who was knighted for services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland, said he hoped his compatriots will be in fine voice at the end of the game.

You could say Hamilton and his men are hoping for more 'Days Like This' as they aim to stay on the 'Bright Side of the Road.'

Rhys Marshall, who scored in the opening leg, misses the trip as he's on holiday and other absentees include Jonny Tuffey, Andrew Mitchell and James Singleton. No.2 goalkeeper James Taylor will deputise for Tuffey, and he could be in for a busy evening (5pm kick-off), but another display of extraordinary resilience from the Lurgan Blues could make it a fairytale Scandinavian adventure.

"Even though we defeated them 2-1, you could see the quality they had and the number of scouts there watching players showed how good a side they are," said Hall.

"You don't have to venture that far back to see some of the incredible results they have enjoyed. They beat Sevilla and Celtic. On the night we produced a better performance but there is no question they are a quality side. We are still massive underdogs. Unfortunately for us the game is over the two legs! It would be great to play them only once and they will still be heavy favourites on their own 3G pitch.

"A good crowd will get behind them and they will also know more about us. We want to give a good account of ourselves but it's clear they are still heavy favourites to go through.

"I presume they will throw everything at us. It's all to lose for them and we just want to cling on to what we have.

"Not many people would have predicted that first-leg result so we have something to defend and hopefully build on. We know the first leg hurt them and there will be a response but hopefully we can frustrate them again."

Liverpool fan Hall was impressed with how former United hero Solskjaer conducted himself, particularly after suffering the surprise loss.

"It was more the Manchester United fans who were wanting to chat to Ole but he did speak to a few of us and Gary and he was very complimentary about the team and our performance," he added.

"We are at different stages of our season but Ole was impressed with our fitness levels. He came across as a very nice guy." Glenavon even looked into the possibility of flying Marshall from Tenerife, where he is on holiday, to Norway for the game, and that's a measure of just how much he is valued by the club. The versatile 23-year-old scored in the opening leg and claimed an impressive assist for Josh Daniels' goal.

Hall added: "Rhys was probably head and shoulders above everyone. We played well but Rhys was miles better, scoring one and then getting a great assist, bolting up the pitch and passing the ball to Josh.

"It's been brilliant to play with Rhys for three years, he is a great defender with pace and he can join in the attacks.

"I'm surprised he hasn't got a move across the water, but in every European game I've played he has probably been the best player. Fingers crossed something will materialise for him, and if not Glenavon are lucky to have such a great player."

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