Warrenpoint Town return to Mourneview Park for the third league meeting between the sides less than five weeks after they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat on Boxing Day, thanks to a Rhys Marshall goal.
Glenavon also emerged victorious by a single goal in the other fixture between the sides this season, a 3-2 victory for the Lurgan Blues at Milltown on the opening day of the season. On that occasion a late winner by Bobby Burns was the difference that secured the points for Gary Hamilton’s side and the young player, thrown on up front due to injuries and suspensions on the day, hasn’t looked back since and neither have the Lurgan Blues. With four league goals and 14 assists this season, 18-year old Burns he is a very versatile player who can play up front, on the wing or at left back.
The game also sets up the opportunity for ex-Warrenpoint striker Stephen Murray for a first appearance against his old club. Murray, who made his first start for Glenavon in Saturday’s 3-2 win against the Champions at Windsor Park, played a part in two of the goals and was unlucky not to add his own name to the score sheet.
Gary Hamilton is well aware of the threat that Matthew Tipton’s side poses. “From the first game we played them this season they were difficult, really hard to break down and, if anything, probably gave us as good a game as any team this season. Coleraine and Ards in the League Cup are probably the only teams to have battered us, bar that if any other team has beaten us, it’s been close and we’ve maybe deserved to get something out of it. As far as I’m concerned Warrenpoint are a quality team that maybe haven’t had the rub of the green in a lot of games this year. We’ve seen that can happen in football but, for a team that’s down where they are, they’ve really impressed me in every game I’ve watched them in. I’ve watched them against Crusaders and against Coleraine and in both games they should have got something from the game. I’ve told the boys, if we’re not on top of our game tomorrow night, they’re definitely more than capable of turning us over.
“They went to Windsor Park before Christmas and got a 3-3 draw, put in an unbelievable performance that day and should have had a penalty as well, to be fair, so as I said, it’s a difficult game and there’s no point in beating Linfield at Windsor Park and then turning up with the wrong attitude and not getting the result against Warrenpoint. The boys know that the minimum they have to do tomorrow night is turn up and play with the same effort and commitment they showed at Windsor and play the same football and if they do that they give themselves every chance to win the game.”
Andrew Doyle is available for selection after missing out on Saturday through serving a one game suspension.
Gary confirmed that Joel had phoned him on Sunday afternoon and informed him that he had met with Linfield officials at Sunday lunchtime and signed a contract. “It’s unfortunate because we were looking to keep him and we offered him a deal to give him a three year contract on improved terms. He is somebody that we brought through and gave him his chance in Irish League football and we were hopeful of keeping him but that’s the modern day game, you have to respect players’ decisions as much as you maybe don’t agree with it. Joel certainly has the ability to play for Linfield Football Club, that’s for sure.
“We turned down a bid for Joel in January, before he signed his pre-contract obviously, based on the fact we were trying to keep him and persuade him to stay. The figure offered didn’t meet the Club’s valuation for Joel bearing in mind the financial reward involved if we made it to Europe. We don’t have anyone to bring in that’s of Joel’s quality so the only way it could potentially happen in January is if we got a player in exchange.
“We did ask Linfield about an exchange for Jordan Stewart but they turned that down so if that doesn’t happen we are more than happy to keep Joel until the end of the season because there’s no better than him out there and available. We understand that Joel has signed for Linfield and we respect that but by the same token we have to look after Glenavon from now until the end of the season in terms of trying to get to Europe. We’re obviously better with Joel Cooper involved in our squad than we are if we let him go to Linfield for a few thousand and not get a player in to replace him.
“From the football club’s point of view unless, and I’m not expecting it by the way, Linfield come back and say ‘yes, we’re prepared to do a deal with Jordan Stewart’ then it’s not going to happen.
“I’ve no issues playing Joel because its in his best interests, while he remains at the Club, to play well, not just for Glenavon, but for himself as well, to put in the effort and perform and, to be fair to him, he’s not the type of lad that won’t do that. Of course he and his granda are Glenavon fans so I’m sure he’ll not want to let the club or his granda down,” Gary concluded.
|Match Sponsor||Ball Sponsor||Man of the Match Sponsor|
|Gary Irwin||Tommy Anderson||Councillors Colin McCusker and Marc Woods|
|Referee||Assistant 1||Assistant 2||4th Official|
|Raymond Hetherington||Stephen Bell||Ryan Kelsey||Neil Robinson|