A case for the defence

GLENAVON must stop conceding goals if they are to lift themselves up the Carling Premiership table, manager Gary Hamilton has said.

The boss has seen his team keep two clean sheets in their two friendly games against Lurgan Celtic and Bangor last week but that’s as many as they’ve kept in their 30 league fixtures so far this season, only managing to shut out Coleraine in September and Ballymena in December.

They’ve conceded 55 goals in the other 28 matches but Hamilton hopes their two friendly clean sheets can inspire confidence in his back line.

He said: “We played well and we can take a lot of positives from the two games, even though they were friendlies. We got two clean sheets, which will give confidence to the back four and the goalkeeper because we haven’t been keeping enough of them. It’s something we need to do more of if we’re going to pick up points. We know that we can score in games so we need to start keeping clean sheets.”

It was Andy Coleman who took over from the injured Davey O’Hare in nets for those two games and Hamilton says the former Newry man could now hold his place in the side:

“Davey’s been struggling with injury so Andy played those two games and he’s given me something to think about there,” he said.

“Andy’s kept his head down recently so he’ll play in the Mid-Ulster Cup final, as will the other boys who played in the semi-final against Dungannon.”

At the other end of the pitch, Glenavon looked equally as accomplished, beating Celtic 2-0 and putting four goals past Bangor. Recent signing Matty Burrows bagged three goals from the two games and gaffer Hamilton was happy with his side’s displays as they look to put their recent league form behind them.

“After the last game against Ballymena and the home match against Crusaders, confidence had taken a dip so it was important to build it again,” he said.

“It could have worked both ways because the last thing we wanted was to get a bad result in these games too but thankfully it went the right way. Against Lurgan Celtic, Jonny Magee, Niall Henderson, Matty Burrows and myself all got a run-out for about 60 or 70 minutes.

“The boys then had Thursday night off. It gave the injured guys an extra day to recover and then we got another good 90 minutes behind us against Bangor on Saturday.

“Matty Burrows got three goals in the two games and Tony (Grant) got a goal on Saturday as well so that will give those two boys a bit of confidence as well.”