Football is back! Tomorrow will see the Glenavon squad make the trip to Ballymena for their first game of the 2022/23 campaign. Travelling support will need to pack their sunglasses and sun cream as the first away day of the new season is set to be a scorcher!
Glenavon go into the game following quite a successful pre-season campaign, with notable wins over Bangor FC and Dergview, with their most recent result being a 2-0 win over neighbours Dollingstown on Wednesday night.
Speaking to the Glenavon Media team, Gary summed up pre-season and gave his thoughts ahead of the new campaign.
“We’ll find out on Saturday. I thought it was a decent pre-season, the boys have worked hard and we have put in some decent performances,” said the manager.
He added, “There’s been no moaning or groaning out of the players and I guess you never really know how pre-season has gone until the first game of the season has gone, so we’ll judge it after the game on Saturday.
“Our target is the same as last season’s target and things haven’t changed. Ballymena have been able to go out and spend money to bring in players like Davy McDaid. Coleraine have signed players too.
“We have the same aim of getting ourselves into a position of getting a shot at European football. Obviously we would love a good cup run but from the perspective of the league, we want to be in the same situation that we have been for the past two years where we are at least with a shot of the semi-final. Obviously we would love to finish the season in Europe, that’s what every team would love to do, but the expectation is on those four full-time teams to take the four European places.
“Whether we can break into that remains to be seen.
“If we can stay injury-free and get a rub of the green who knows, we might break into that top six.”
When asked about whether he had thought about his team selection for Saturday Gary said,
“I hadn’t and that’s why a couple of the boys played tonight. The boys who got their chance on Saturday got 90 minutes but there were a few who didn’t – Conor McCloskey, Andy Hall, Conor Kerr, Jamie Doran and Issac Baird, plus Harry Norton too. Everybody comes into contention. Aaron Prendergast hasn’t done himself any harm either, I thought he was super tonight and when he came on against Ballyclare last week I thought he was excellent then too.”
He went on to add,
“We always want to try and get results and get the season off to a good start – everybody does. Hopefully we can go there, give a good account of ourselves and come away with the three points. It’ll not be easy, it never is down there. We need to be ready, we need to be switched on and defensively good, but we need to take our chances when they come to us. If we do those two parts of the game well you’ll always stand a chance of getting a result.”
Supporters can purchase their tickets for the game here – https://bit.ly/3Af2bbt
LAST TIME OUT
Glenavon came out on top in a huge match in the battle for seventh place by defeating Ballymena United 3-1 at Mourneview Park on a Saturday afternoon in an action-packed encounter which saw two red cards shown and a penalty saved.
It was the visitors who took the lead on 25 minutes when Kym Nelson headed home from a Ross Redman free-kick.Glenavon responded a minute before the break, with Calum Birney’s header being adjudged to have crossed the line.
Ballymena were awarded a penalty 10 minutes into the second half, while Danny Wallace was also shown a red card for the challenge on Michael Place which resulted in the penalty. Young goalkeeper Josh Clarke, on his Glenavon debut, made a superb save to deny United captain Leroy Millar from the spot.
The 10 men of Glenavon took the lead on 73 minutes when Peter Campbell curled a brilliant left-foot shot into the far corner. Campbell grabbed his second and Glenavon’s third just two minutes later by placing a low shot beyond the dive of Ballymena goalkeeper Jordan Williamson and inside the far post.
Millar was shown a red card two minutes into injury time after he’d been given a second yellow following an altercation with Robert Garrett, meaning both sides ended the game with 10 men.
Glenavon’s victory consolidated their hold on seventh place, as they sat four points clear of Ballymena with four games remaining. This important victory led to the Lurgan Blues cementing their spot in 7th, resulting in qualification for the European play-offs.
Gary will have plenty of players at his disposal tomorrow, with the exception of Mark Haughey, Michael O’Connor and Jamie Doran.
Referee: Christopher Morrison
Assistant Referees: Stephen Donaldson, Ryan Kelsey
Fourth Official: Raymond Crangle