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Gary Hamilton hails part-time Glenavon stars for battling draw against 'privileged' Larne


Matthew Fitzpatrick was on target again for Glenavon

Matthew Fitzpatrick was on target again for Glenavon

Matthew Fitzpatrick was on target again for Glenavon

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton heaped praise on his side's 'mental strength' as they twice came from behind to earn a share of the spoils against Larne.

In the middle of a gruelling schedule, the Lurgan Blues were coming off the back of a testing midweek draw against Coleraine, while the visitors enjoyed a rare week off to prepare.

Despite this, it was Hamilton's men who came on strong to earn their point.

In the first half, Marty Donnelly fired Larne ahead only for Matthew Fitzpatrick to level up soon after.

Davy McDaid restored Larne's lead, but Glenavon showed character after the break to make it 2-2 with Conan Byrne's penalty, much to Hamilton's joy.

"We've had a tough week with the two games and Larne are in a privileged position with the full-time status so I'm pleased," Hamilton said.

"I can't remember the last training session we had. We're coming in on a Thursday just to get a stretch, a jog and a massage and that's it.

"We're not getting time to work on the training ground and when you're full-time, you can do that. For us to go and compete with Larne is a credit to the boys. If you're looking at the match, I don't think we looked any less fit than Larne.

"You have to praise the players' mental strength because it would have been easy to come and say they were tired and didn't have a run in them, but they get on with it and if anyone deserved to shade the game, I felt it was us."

Larne took the lead with 19 minutes on the clock after some fine work from McDaid.

He out-muscled Colin Coates before drifting past two other players and slipping the ball to his right to find Donnelly on the edge of the box. He took one touch before firing low past Craig Hyland.

The lead lasted just four minutes, however, as Fitzpatrick bagged his second goal in four days. Larne failed to deal with a bouncing ball inside the area - including an appeal for a foul on Danny Purkis - but Fitzpatrick didn't wait for a second invitation to level.

It was 2-1 on 40 minutes courtesy of a free-kick move which looked to have come straight off the training ground. Jeff Hughes found Mark Randall out on the left flank and his floated cross was met by the head of Hughes.

The skipper's header glanced off the far post and McDaid was on hand to tap Larne back in front.

The Invermen had two chances to extend their advantage at the start of the second half but Randall and John Herron both saw their shots saved by Hyland.

As the second period wore on, though, Glenavon grew in confidence and their equaliser came as little surprise with 17 minutes left.

Experienced midfielder Byrne, only on the pitch two minutes as a sub, was fouled inside the area by Hughes. Byrne dusted himself down to net from the spot, which was enough to ensure a point.

"I'm disappointed that we couldn't hold on," said Larne boss Tiernan Lynch.

"If truth be told, it wasn't one of our better performances.

"We let the game turn into more of a ding-dong and didn't have enough control of the game which probably hurt us."

GLENAVON: Hyland 6, Coates 7, A Doyle 7, Purkis 6 (Byrne, 70 mins, 6), Campbell 6, Snoddy 6, Fitzpatrick 7, Singleton 7, Garrett 6 (Douglas, 68 mins, 6), Ward 6, McCaffrey 6 (Moorhouse, 59 mins, 6). Unused subs: Hall, Harmon, Norton, J Doyle

Larne: Devlin 6, Kelly 7, Watson 7, Robinson 7, Herron, 7 Randall 6 (McKendry, 73 mins, 6), McDaid 7 (Mottley-Henry, 86 mins, 6), Donnelly 7 (Hale, 73 mins, 6), Lynch 6, Cosgrove 7, Hughes 7. Unused subs: Mitchell, Wade Slater, Jarvis, McMurray.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown) 7

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