A sell-out home crowd is really looking forward to tomorrow night’s visit of Linfield for the latest match in the Dankse Bank Premiership which kicks off at 8pm, the first time the sides have met this season.


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David Healy’s men will arrive at Mourneview Park buoyed by last Saturday’s win over league leaders Coleraine. Glenavon’s win at Ballinamallard closed the gap to the leaders to two points but the Bannsiders bounced back from their Windsor Park defeat with a convincing 4-1 defeat of Ards on Tuesday night to restore their 5 point lead at the top.

Speaking to BBC Sport NI Healy said “We’ll have to do it the hard way but the pressure mounts on the other teams (Coleraine and Glenavon). How do they react?” Gary Hamilton was somewhat surprised by this  and when we spoke to him ahead of tomorrow’s game he responded “I’m not sure what David’s on about. Anyone who knows will realize that all the pressure’s on Linfield Football Club and not ourselves or Coleraine. Linfield football club, the size that they are and the budget that they have and the players that they have are expected to finish above Glenavon and Coleraine every year; it’s as simple as that. Whenever I played for the Glens it was the same for the Glens – you were expected, as a ‘Big Two’ team to finish above the rest every year and anything else was a failure.

“Everyone’s got their opinions but, for him to come out and say there’s pressure on us, there’s certainly no pressure on me anyway or on my players. They’ve done tremendously well so far and obviously they want to keep the run going but in terms of pressure, there’s no pressure on them to win a league title. At the end of the year the only pressure will be on David or Stephen if they don’t win it. In every league in the world it’s expected that the ‘big clubs’ like Barcelona or Real Madrid are expected to win the league or challenge for league titles. When Leicester won the English Premier League it was a massive, massive story.

“Europe’s always going to be our aim and even though its’ difficult with the play-off structure, even coming 7th has the same right come end of the season at getting a shot as it as they team that finished 3rd, 4th or 5th. I for one don’t agree with that system, even though it got us to the play-off final last year, which we got beat in. A team can finish 10, 15 or 20 points behind the top placed team in the play-off system, it’s completely and utterly wrong but it is what it is, that’s the rules and you have to get on with them.”

Refereeing has been in the news this week and Linfield took the unusual step of issuing a statement regarding what they perceive as “incorrect decisions in professional football” which, they say “can have costly consequences.”

Gary Hamilton told us “Every club in this country has been the victim of it but for some reason Linfield are the only club that comes out and makes an issue of it leading in to a big game. I feel that is completely wrong, putting pressure on officials. I would hope that NIFL would appoint a set of officials from out of the country so there’d be no pressure on them in a big game. That’s would should happen after statements like that are made because, if there’s a decision that goes against Glenavon, it could be perceived as due to the pressure that Linfield have created with their statements, and if Linfield get a decision given against them, it’ll be seen in that context as well so the referee’s in a no-win situation. He’s going out under pressure and unfortunately the referee who is probably the most capable of dealing with a massive game like this hasn’t refereed a game involving Linfield this year, which is incredible. It’s very strange that the best referee in the country has not refereed in any big games involving Linfield this season.

Sammy Clingan celebrates his equaliser against Coleraine in front of a packed Crescent End. Photo by Brian Bain

“The only team in the past year that we can remember to have had two red cards overturned within a day or two, is Linfield. Carrick’s Aaron Smyth never got his red card overturned and they are fighting for their lives in the league and they have every bit as much right to have decisions overturned as Linfield but unfortunately, they didn’t. In this league it seems when Linfield make a statement, something’s done about it, but for smaller clubs, it seems to be a situation where nothing is done.”

Glenavon’s young guns Mark Sykes, Josh Daniels and Bobby Burns celebrate. Photo Alan Weir

Looking ahead to the game Gary again stressed the importance of our fans getting behind the team “The fans have a massive part to play tomorrow night. The Coleraine game at home, they were excellent and, make no mistake about it, they can definitely, definitely, give the players a massive push if they get behind them. The players on the pitch thrive on it and bounce and buzz off it when they can hear that and hopefully tomorrow night we can hear them loud and clear and the fans will keep going to the 90 minutes is up.

“It’ll be a great atmosphere for the players to play in front of and it’ll be a test for our young kids to see if they freeze or they embrace it. Looking back to the Coleraine game and going into this one, it’s something I can’t emphasise enough to the players how much you miss playing in games like this when you get the chance to start and perform and make a name for yourself.

“It’s going to be as close to a full-house as possible, as we can’t break Health & Safety rules, but in terms of full-house it’s going to be the first one we’ve had since our Boxing Day games which were a given. Players have to embrace that, go out and play and enjoy it and work their socks off and if they keep together and play the way they’ve been playing we stand a chance of beating any team in the league.

“Linfield’s a team that has a lot of quality, a top manager in David, and they’re expected to beat us, there’s no two ways about it, they’re expected to come to Mourneview and win. Big clubs are expected to do that but our players have to be well prepared, mentally right, and hopefully, hopefully, give the fans something to cheer about.”

Form Guide

Last Five League games

Glenavon: W W D W W

Linfield: L W W L W

Last Five Head to Head Games (league unless stated otherwise):

Glenavon 2-0 Linfield (Irish Cup Final, National Stadium)
Linfield 4-0 Glenavon
Glenavon 2-2 Linfield
Glenavon 1-2 Linfield
Linfield 3-0 Glenavon

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Ian McNabb Paul Robinson Adam Jeffrey Steven Gregg

Matchday Sponsors

Our Match Sponsor is John Muldrew Family Butchers Markethill, the Ball Sponsor is Gordon Gough and the Glenavon MOTM is sponsored by Brian Odgers, Clive Serplus, John McDowell