Belfast Telegraph

Staying out of the spotlight in race for title suits Glenavon, insists Hall

By Graham Luney

Andy Hall says Glenavon are happy to go about their business under the radar while the teams at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership go toe-to-toe in the title race.

The top two clash at the Coleraine Showgrounds today with Oran Kearney's men welcoming Linfield to the north west, but fourth-placed Glenavon have a huge game at third-placed Crusaders.

Both sides are level on points and if the Blues fail to taste victory the winners at Seaview will be third in the table.

The Lurgan Blues are the league's top scorers, though Crusaders' rearguard has looked solid this season. Winger Hall knows it will take something special to floor Stephen Baxter's boys in north Belfast.

"There's a big incentive in this one as it's third v fourth and we both want to keep pace with the top two" said Hall.

"It would be nice to bridge that gap and the incentive is there. Seaview is always a tough place to go and people think Crusaders have a direct playing style but they also have a lot of good footballers who can get in behind you.

"Seaview was considered a fortress but a few results this season have raised eyebrows and we will be going there looking to win the game.

"We are only five points off the leaders Coleraine and we are happy to exist under the radar while other teams are talked about.

"We want to get back into Europe and finish as high as we can. No one is tipping Glenavon to challenge for the title and we will quite happily go about our business quietly."

Hall has been encouraged by Glenavon's performances and he's excited by young talents such as Bobby Burns and Mark Sykes strutting their stuff.

"We have been performing well as a team, despite suffering a few disappointing results," said Hall.

"In the Glentoran and Dungannon games at home, we felt we could have done better, we could have had even more points.

"We are moving in the right direction.

"Over the last six to 12 months we have lost quite a few experienced players who are doing well in the same league. Young players have progressed and they are gaining confidence all the time.

"If you're good enough to perform age is irrelevant and we've a teenager like Bobby Burns who was a left-back when I came to the club and now he's working hard up front for us.

"It's also great to see Mark Sykes score for the Northern Ireland Under-21s and scoring goals is probably the one thing he can add to his game.

"If he keeps scoring goals and creating assists, cross-channel scouts will start to take notice of him.

"What's important is if he keeps playing well and scoring goals for us, then a move could be possible in the future.

"We have plenty of goalscorers in the team but our attacking instincts can leave us a bit vulnerable at the back, however that's something we can work on.

"That's not the fault of the defence, we just like to get forward."

Crusaders striker Jordan Owens is celebrating his testimonial year and supporters are invited to attend a poker night in the Social Club tonight (7pm).

Entrance will be £20 for those wishing to support the event.

Before the match there will be a tribute to supporter Billy Whiteside, who tragically passed away while attending Crusaders' 3-0 win over Cove Rangers in Scotland.

Billy's son Tommy is the club treasurer.

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