Belfast Telegraph

More of same can bag us a Euro spot: Hamilton

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton

By Alex Mills

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton believes his team's never-say-die attitude can have a decisive impact as they chase down an automatic European qualification spot.

The Lurgan Blues demonstrated their gutsy battling spirit in last weekend's last-gasp win over Crusaders at Mourneview Park - a result that propelled Hamilton's boys to within one point of the outgoing champions in the Danske Bank Premiership table.

Although they were staring down the barrel of defeat, Glenavon, inspired by the late appearance of their manager, pinched a 90th-minute equaliser through substitute Stephen Murray before former Northern Ireland midfielder Sammy Clingan won it from the penalty spot.

With Rodney McAree's Coleraine coming to Mourneview Park today, Hamilton insists his boys will require a similar performance of hunger, commitment and passion.

"We left it late and I suppose that five-minute spell could have a big impact come the end of the season," said Hamilton.

"It was a big three points, make no mistake about that, in terms of the shake-up for European places.

"I still expect a team like Crusaders to be finishing third at the very least because of the financial advantage they have over the rest of us. If they don't there is something wrong. But we have given ourselves a chance.

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"But after last week's performance, the boys have given themselves a chance to win a few more games."

Incredibly, if Glenavon manage to pick up seven points from their remaining four games, they will write themselves into the record books because it would be their highest number of league points ever achieved.

"We simply have to play the game in front of us," added Hamilton. "The 'split' games give you a challenge each week against teams around or above us, so it demands a team effort.

"Over the last three or four games, we have produced results not as individuals but as a team with a never-say-die attitude. I always felt confident we could get something last Saturday.

"It was a good performance considering we were missing so many players. We lost Eoin Wearen the night before the game due to illness and then Andrew Mitchell broke down in the warm-up. We had to ask some of the boys to do different jobs and I thought they performed admirably."

And, on his cameo role, when he had a hand on both goals, Hamilton modestly added: "Sometimes substitutions work, sometimes they don't.

"I thought JJ (Jordan Jenkins) was excellent when he came on. He worked his socks off - he closed them down and he got in behind them on a few occasions. That changed the game.

"Stephen Murray came on to get us the equaliser and, thankfully, I had a hand on both goals, so you could say all three subs made an impact. It's nice when you make substitutions and they work out."

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