“On Tuesday night we didn’t get the performance or the energy levels we were looking for and which the same 10 outfield players had shown against Coleraine last Saturday,” Gary Hamilton told us as he reviewed the disappointing performance in the League Cup semifinal against Carrick Rangers. “We had an excellent crowd the other night but we did nothing to lift them and we deserved to get beaten by a team whose players grabbed their chance and made it to a final. In January we need to move some players on so we can get players in and have a fresh start again.
“On Thursday night before a good training session we had a good ‘clear the air’ talk and the players had their say as well. As long as the players give me, the club, the fans everything they have and do themselves justice then I can’t complain.
“It’s a big game tomorrow and it’s a difficult place to get a result though we have improved our record against them with two draws and a win in the last couple of seasons. We must start brightly and get on top if we can. If we can do that we give ourselves the chance of getting a result. The players should need no extra motivation to be up for a game against the two-time reigning Champions,” Gary concluded.
Gary will be making changes for this game but his options are somewhat limited. Kevin Braniff and Ciaran Martyn will not be risked on the artificial surface tomorrow. Braniff has only just recovered from a groin problem that he started the season with and which he aggravated the last time he played on a plastic surface. Likewise Ciaran Martyn is only just back from a hamstring strain which recurred when he started the game at Solitude at the end of October, the goal-scoring midfielder having to come off at half time. He attempted to make another comeback in that 3-3 draw with the Crues but then only lasted 9 minutes.
The last game between these two sides was a thrilling 3-3 draw at Mourneview Park which saw Glenavon come back from an early Paul Heatley goal to lead 2-1 at half time with goals from Rhys Marshall and Dave Elebert. Elebert scored again in the second half to make it 3-1 before Heatley struck again and Jordan Owens grabbed a late equaliser for the Champions. Sean O’Neill then saved a stoppage time penalty by Eoin Bradley but Glenavon felt that they should have at least another spot kick, if not two.