Belfast Telegraph

It'll take mammoth effort for Glenavon to seal Europa League spot: Hamilton

Glenavon 1-1 Coleraine

Tussle: Steven Douglas battles with Glenavon's Andy Mitchell
Tussle: Steven Douglas battles with Glenavon's Andy Mitchell

By Ian Callender

Recent form and history pointed to a Glenavon win but a 90th minute Coleraine equaliser left Gary Hamilton ruing his side's luck and admitting they need to win their remaining three matches to have any chance of qualifying for Europe without the need for the play-offs.

Glenavon had won their last four, Coleraine had lost their last three and were without a win at Mourneview Park on their last seven visits. But the Lurgan Blues needed a dubious penalty for their only goal and, denied a more blatant second spot-kick award, had to be satisfied with just a point when "we deserved all three", according to the Glenavon boss.

"The only way to get European football is to finish above Ballymena so we have to win three out of three," said Hamilton.

"However that is a pretty impossible task against the top six and next up we go to the team that won the league.

"But I would like to go on the record to congratulate (Linfield boss) David Healy and his backroom staff and players. We will show them respect with a guard of honour on Saturday."

Hamilton was gutted for his players that they didn't beat Coleraine because, although what he described as an "unbelievable wind" spoiled the match, they forced Chris Johns into many more saves than Jonny Tuffey.

The Glenavon keeper was the early hero, saving Jamie McGonigle's eighth-minute spot kick but the Bannsiders failed to take advantage of their wind at their backs in the first half, with poor shooting, and in the words of boss Rodney McAree "knew we were going to up against in the second half".

He hailed Johns for two spectacular finger-tip saves from Sammy Clingan free-kicks but had no chance from the penalty converted on the hour by the Northern Ireland international. But it should not have been given as referee Keith Kennedy almost admitted after the match.

"To be fair to Keith he came up to me at the end and said, 'if I've got it wrong I will hold my hands up and apologise'," said McAree. "We don't seem to be getting the rub of green since the (Irish Cup) semi-final but we will keep plugging away and hopefully that will change."

The rub of the green did go their way in the 68th minute when Steven Douglas pushed Josh Daniels in the box but only a free-kick was awarded. Unfortunately for Glenavon, two wrongs don't make a right.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Marshall, Wearen (Hall, 66 mins), Sharkey, Singleton, Harmon (Jenkins, 90 mins), Clingan, Garrett, Mitchell (Hamilton, 87 mins), Murray, Daniels. Unused subs: Taylor, Norton, McCloskey, Stewart.

Coleraine: Johns; Canning, O'Donnell, Douglas, Mullan, Parkhill (Glackin, 66 mins), Burke (Carson, 64 mins), B Doherty, Shiels, McLaughlin (Bradley, 66 mins), McGonigle. Unused subs: M Doherty, Crown, Edgar, Davidson.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the Match: Sammy Clingan

Match rating: 5/10.

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