Belfast Telegraph

Hamilton believes Lurgan Blues can progress


By Steve Simpson

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton believes his team have a fighting chance of creating a major upset next week and overcoming Molde to reach the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

The Lurgan Blues were outstanding in Wednesday night's 2-1 first leg victory at Mourneview Park against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side with Rhys Marshall and Josh Daniels on target for the home side.

While quite rightly basking in that success, Hamilton would love to finish the job in Norway in the return, though knows all too well his players face a tough test.

"We are not getting ahead of ourselves and it will be a massive task to get into the next round but we have given ourselves a chance," said Hamilton.

"We have given ourselves something to play for and the players deserve it. It's a superb feeling. We'll go there and give it our all and hopefully sneak a historic win.

"I've been involved in football from the age of nine or 10 and I'm now 37 and that's the most proud I've ever been of a team and being involved in a team in my career.

"I know you get nothing for it because there is still the second leg to go but it's a sense of pride for the players that they can go out and beat a club of the high standing of Molde."

Numerous scouts from English clubs were at Mourneview to watch Molde's talented young players but it was Glenavon's gifted stars such as Mark Sykes and Marshall who shone. Both were praised post-match by Manchester United legend Solskjaer.

Hamilton added: "Hopefully those scouts will be going away looking at our players thinking they aren't bad for part-time players. Every one of them was outstanding against Molde.

"I've seen (Irish League) teams over the last few years beat sides from Lithuania, Luxembourg or the Faroe Islands or whatever but I cannot remember for a long time a result like this.

"I remember when I was young Linfield beating Copenhagen at Windsor Park. That's the last time I remember an Irish League side beating a team of this standard.

"We had to be disciplined and get in our shape but on the flip side we created a lot ourselves and had some great passages of play and breaking at pace. The second goal was a great example of that. I'm so proud of them."

Solskjaer spoke of his disappointment at losing, saying big improvements would be needed to overturn the deficit in Thursday's second leg in Norway. Molde are still favourites but Glenavon will fancy their chances after their display at Mourneview.

Belfast Telegraph

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