League leaders Linfield are the visitors for Friday night’s Danske Bank Premiership fixture which once again will feature live on BBC 2 NI’s popular local football slot.
David Healy told BBC Sport NI that winning must take priority over style of play as the league race enters its closing stages with Linfield having opened up a nine point lead over second-placed Ballymena United.
Meanwhile Gary Hamilton is trying to understand why his team’s home form and performances seem to lack the belief that they display on the road. This was typified only last week when a superb performance at Seaview was followed up with an insipid home display against Cliftonville. “I just think some of the players struggle with the demands and the pressure at home sometimes. They’re young lads and there’s very few of them have played for ‘big’ clubs, they’ve played for lower clubs or come through the ranks as young kids and they’ve never really been in a position before where they were sitting top of the league in December and then had a couple of bad results. Expectations of supporters go up and all of a sudden a couple of bad results and the players’ confidence goes.
“You only have to look at the last run of fixtures away from home. There’s none of them you could say was a bad result; we’ve been very positive and the boys have played really, really good stuff and the same bunch of players who played against Crusaders last week and dominated the second half, if the truth be told, and to go out last week (against Cliftonville) in the final third and look short of confidence, there has to be something behind that.
“The only thing we can maybe point to is, at home, there’s more fans there, it’s more demanding and players sometimes struggle with that. I’ve seen it at The Oval when I played for Glentoran, I’ve seen it down at Linfield when players have come to the club and can’t deal with the demands and expectations. Most of the players (in our squad) have never been in that situation before. There’s really only Robert Garrett and Sammy Clingan, who’s been injured most of the season, and Jonny Tuffey, that have been regularly in that position. It’s a ‘Catch 22’ situation – supporters come out with expectations and they’re entitled to their opinions and players have to learn to deal with that.”
The teams last met at Mourneview Park on the opening day of the season when a solitary goal from ex-Glenavon forward Daniel Kearns saw Linfield take all three points. In the return fixture at Windsor Park neither side could break the deadlock and the game finished in an entertaining 0-0 draw.
On-loan striker Cameron Stewart is ineligible to face his parent club tomorrow and Sammy Clingan and Andrew Doyle are still on the long-term injury list.
When analyzed, Glenavon’s home and away form this season is actually not far apart in the raw numbers. In the current league season, after 30 games, Glenavon’s home and away record reads:
Home: P15 W7 D4 L4 F29 A20 Pts 25
Away: P15 W7 D5 L3 F27 A20 Pts 26
On closer inspection, the Lurgan Blues are unbeaten on the road since losing 4-2 at Solitude on 8th December but have lost three out of the last five home league games. The first of those home defeats, at the hands of Warrenpoint, brought to an end an excellent run of ten unbeaten (six wins, four draws) at Mourneview Park.
Last five league games
Glenavon: D W W D L
Linfield: W W W W W
Head to Head
Last ten games in all competitions
Glenavon: W2 D2 L6 F10 A18, Average goals per game 2.8
Referee: Steven Gregg, Assistants: Kristian Hanna, Ken Ross, 4th Official: Andrew Davey
This will be Steven Gregg’s second Glenavon game this season, the previous being the 4-0 win against Ballymena Utd. in August.