It’s second versus third tomorrow as Linfield host Glenavon at Windsor Park in the top game of the day in the Dankse Bank Premiership. There’s just a point separating the teams with Glenavon’s home win against Coleraine last Friday night helping them capitalise on the postponement of Linfield’s game at the Newry Showgrounds.
The teams met at Mourneview Park on the opening day of the season and Glenavon was very unlucky to be on the wrong end of a 1-0 score line, former Glenavon forward Daniel Kearns grabbing the winner in the first half after Andrew Mitchell had missed with an earlier penalty.
Looking ahead to the game tomorrow, Gary Hamilton is expecting another tough game. “Things have been going well for them at Windsor; they beat Crusaders in their last game there 4-1 so we know it’s not going to be easy and we’re not going to get anything given to us. For us to get a result tomorrow we need everybody to be on top of their game.
“We’ve got a good team as well and we’ve proved we can beat every team in this league over the last few seasons so it’s up to us to go tomorrow and when the players cross the white line, it’s up to them to go and prove how good players they are and that they can go to places like Windsor and get good results against good teams. If they perform tomorrow and they play to their capabilities and we’re not carrying any passengers then we’ve every opportunity of getting a result, there’s no doubt about that. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be ok and we’ll put in a good performance.”
Gary was pleased with last week’s clean sheet against Coleraine but he’s well aware of the attacking threat that Linfield poses. “It was very pleasing because we hadn’t been defending our box well. In open play we were defending okay but when balls were coming in from wide areas we weren’t marking men in our box and it was punishing us week in and week out. Thankfully the other night, any balls that did come into the box we were marking men. Even the header that Jamie McGonigle got from Eoin Bradley’s cross, Dylan King got tight to him and did enough to put him off his header. You’re not going to win every header but if you’re tight enough you can at least make it hard for them – that’s the main art to defending.
“When Linfield won the league their defenders Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher and Mark Stafford scored something like 25 goals between them and I’ve no doubt that went a long way towards them winning the league as most team’s midfields wouldn’t score that many goals. Already this season we reckon that defenders Josh Robinson, Jimmy Callacher have won them 12 points with winning goals. It shows you how important they are and how important set pieces are in the modern game, whether its defending them or attacking them, especially against Linfield, they are very strong. You have to cut down their opportunities by not giving away silly free kicks and silly corners and when you do give them way you have to be marking well and switched on.”
Andrew Mitchell and Conor McCloskey, who both came off with slight hamstring niggles last Friday night have come through Thursday night’s training and both will be assessed on Saturday in case they have any reaction. Steo Donnelly also came through training this week and is available for the squad tomorrow.
Possible Travel Delays
Spectators travelling to the game are asked to note that on Saturday afternoon the roads around the National Stadium are likely to be exceptionally busy because of Christmas shopping and they may wish to adjust their journey times accordingly.
Anyone who was unable to purchase a ticket for the game from the club office at MVP can still obtain them from the ticket booth which is positioned at the Boucher Road end of the ground. Glenavon fans will be accommodated in the North Stand.
Last five league games
Linfield: L W W L W (9 points from 15)
Glenavon: L W D L W (7 points from 15)
Head to Head
Last 10 games in all competitions
Glenavon: W3 D1 L6 F12 A18, Average goals per game 3.0
Referee: Tim Marshall, Assistants: Stephen Donaldson and Neill Gillespie, 4th Official: Tony Clarke
Tim Marshall takes charge of a Glenavon game for the third time this season, his previous two games being in the 2-1 victory away to Newry City on August and the 3-0 defeat at Crusaders in November.