Glenavon boss thinking outside the box

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton (centre) with two of his side's scorers, Joel Cooper (left) and Rhys Marshall, against Carrick Rangers. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton (centre) with two of his side's scorers, Joel Cooper (left) and Rhys Marshall, against Carrick Rangers. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton must fly in the face of Irish League history to take his team on to the next natural stage of progress.

Hamilton may have felt frustrated at large periods of play in last weekend’s 4-0 victory over Carrick Rangers but the win attracted plaudits from opposite number Kieran Harding.

Harding was assistant manager at Portadown during Hamilton’s first Irish League title success as a player in 2002.

The Carrick boss offered post-match praise to Hamilton for his “patience and hard work” since taking on the role of Mourneview Park manager.

That 4-0 victory offered three points and a clean sheet to add to expectations that a title challenge remains the next target for Glenavon.

However, Hamilton’s focus turned to areas of improvement beyond the final score.

“If you think back to title-winning teams of the past then the successful league sides had a front partnership with two players capable of banging in goals,” said Hamilton. “That has been the case for Crusaders, Cliftonville, Linfield and even the teams I played in like Portadown and Glentoran.

“We have never had that in my time at Glenavon, with goals more from all over the pitch rather than a stand-out strike pairing.

“You look at Guy Bates, Kevin Braniff and Eoin Bradley and they have each scored 20-plus goals but having a partnership with two capable of that kind of return can make all the difference.

“However, what is exciting is still the overall goal threat from around the pitch and the potential of our forward options to click together.”

Glenavon’s 4-0 defeat of Carrick provided the perfect start to the season – with three goals scored by full-backs and a third from playmaker Joel Cooper.

“Rhys Marshall got two from right-back and I consider him the best player in the Irish League of the past five years not to go across the water,” said Hamilton. “He scored two goals on Saturday and is so versatile.

“Mark Patton chipped in with a goal from left-back and that ability to find goals from other areas is certainly a strength.”

Glenavon will attempt to build on the Mourneview Park momentum of that Carrick result by playing host to Cliftonville on Saturday.

“You want to make home advantage count for something,” said Hamilton. “We also want to improve on our results against the top-six sides.

“We need to always first earn the right to play.”

Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.