Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon will go to Windsor without fear, insists Gary Hamilton

Upcoming fixtures Saturday (3pm): Ballymena Utd v Cliftonville, Coleraine v Larne, Crusaders v Glentoran, Dungannon v Carrick, Linfield v Glenavon, Warrenpoint Tn v Institute

All smiles: Glenavon's Aaron Harmon congratulates Jordan Jenkins after he scored against Ballymena United last weekend
All smiles: Glenavon's Aaron Harmon congratulates Jordan Jenkins after he scored against Ballymena United last weekend

By Steven Beacom

Gary Hamilton has admitted that Glenavon may not have the squad strength to challenge Linfield for the title but, at their best, they're capable of upsetting the champions at Windsor Park.

Hamilton's team will travel to Belfast tomorrow in better heart than they would have done at the start of the month.

Back then they were feeling low following a crushing 4-0 home defeat to Coleraine which left them struggling at the wrong end of the table.

Since that loss to the Bannsiders, they found some form in Scotland, beating Formartine 3-0 in the Challenge Cup.

Another morale boosting 6-2 win over Rathfriland Rangers in the Mid-Ulster Cup was next, and then they felt hard done by losing 3-2 to Crusaders in the league, with Hamilton suggesting refereeing decisions went against his side at Seaview.

Last time out Glenavon impressed with a 3-1 victory over Ballymena in Lurgan and now all roads lead to Windsor against a Linfield side slowly but surely finding their feet domestically after their Europa League heroics.

"Linfield have had a good European campaign and have brought in two top players in (Bastien) Hery and Shayne Lavery. They will be a force to be reckoned with and will be a difficult team to take the title from," says Hamilton.

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Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton

"I'm not saying we are strong enough to go on and win league titles. Maybe we don't have the strength in depth for that, but certainly on our day we are good enough to match any team in a one-off game.

"That's what the boys have to believe when they go to Windsor Park. They have done that over the last few years and gone there and got results, so we have nothing to fear.

"We are playing against a top side but there is no pressure on us because everyone will be expecting Linfield to win, and rightly so because of the squad they have and the budget they have. In football you never know, and if we perform like we did against Ballymena and Crusaders we will give ourselves a real chance."

Hamilton has pinpointed the trip to Scotland as the turning point in Glenavon's season.

"It probably started in Scotland with the match against Formartine. We had a good performance there and the boys have been excellent ever since," he said.

"Sometimes a break away and a bit of time together can do the boys a world of good. I've noticed a big difference in training and match days and hopefully we are out of the rut we were in.

"Against Ballymena it was hard to single out anybody because we had so many good performances. If we keep playing that way and put in those performances individually we will get more wins than defeats.

"We are also getting players back, which is crucial. On our bench against Ballymena, players who didn't come on were Sammy Clingan, a Northern Ireland international, Caolan Marron, an Under-21 international, Daniel Larmour and Eoin Wearen who are both top players.

"That helps because when people look at the bench, they know if they don't perform someone is there to take their place."

The production line of young players continues at Mourneview with Paddy Burns and Jack O'Mahony shining from the start versus Ballymena and Jordan Jenkins coming on to score.

"Paddy Burns and Jack O'Mahony have come in and done well," says Hamilton. "I was also pleased to see Jordan Jenkins come off the bench to score, that'll be good for his confidence. He's so much potential and we've others coming through as well.

"The future does look good for the club if we can keep them all together."

PWDLFAPts

Crusaders861125819

Coleraine844021816

Cliftonville851215616

Glentoran8422141014

Linfield540110512

Larne7322171011

Ballymena Utd7322141011

Dungannon Sw8323101811

Glenavon721410147

Carrick Rangers72056106

Institute80174231

Warrenpoint Tn70072260

Linfield

Glenavon

Danske Bank Premiership

Windsor Park, Tomorrow, 3.00pm

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