GLENAVON 0 MILLWALL 3
GLENAVON boss Gary Hamilton was pleased with his side’s display despite their 3-0 defeat at the hands of English Championship side Millwall at Mourneview Park on Saturday.
Even with such a convincing score-line, the home side had matched their professional opponents for long spells, but ultimately the class of Lions striker John Marquius and a thunderbolt from youngster Conor Wilkinson proved the difference between the teams.
“I thought the boys came away with a lot of credit,” said Hamilton.
“Obviously the second goal was a bit of a mix up between Marc Brown and Davy O’Hare but until then we were well in the game.
“Their fitness and full-time training showed towards the end of the game when we put a few of our younger lads on but overall, I thought we did ourselves proud. Kenny Jackett was very impressed with us after the game.
“He couldn’t believe how well we played considering the wages that we pay. He thought the boys were very good and it’s a credit to them all. We passed the ball about brilliantly and we weren’t panicking and kicking it long.
“That’s something that we’ve tried to bring in during training. We’ve worked on pressing the ball and passing it and I think it’s probably been a while since that sort of football has been played at Mourneview Park.
“We treated it more as a training session because it’s going to be very tough to beat a Championship team. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it and the harder we worked to get the ball back off them on Saturday, the better it will be for our long term fitness. I thought our work-rate and effort was great.”
The boss was also full of praise for the visitors, who played the game free of charge, a rarity for such high-profile opposition.
“I thought Millwall were a different class,” he said.
“The players are technically better on the ball, fitter and stronger and that all comes form full-time training. For example, Ciaran Doherty didn’t look out of place on the pitch tactically but those players are training every day, getting the right diet and the right rest.
“They’re a good side and it would be nice to see them do well. It’s good to see clubs coming over here and doing us a good turn.”
Before any of the real action could start, referee Gareth Eakin stole the attention as he went down injured and had to be replaced by linesman Eamon Shanks on just 12 minutes.
After things managed to settle down, Glenavon at least looked eager to play a brand of passing football but, in the first half, had struggled to cause Millwall’s stout defence, well marshalled by Karleigh Osbourne, any real problems.
At the other end, Andy Coleman had to be alert to hold off the visitors, saving from Alan Dunne early on before he was really tested by Marqiuis’ venomous dipping half-volley which he did well to punch over the crossbar. However, just after the half-hour mark, the talented 20 year-old did bag his first goal of the afternoon as he latched on to a neat through ball from impressive midfielder Chris Taylor before keeping cool to finish under Coleman.
Taylor could even have netted himself a few minutes later when Andy Kilmartin lost the ball on the edge of his own area, but he could only scuff a shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Glenavon’s only effort of the half came on 38 minutes when a fantastic long ball by Marc Brown picked out Gary Hamilton on the edge of the box. He took the ball down and teed up strike-partner Guy Bates but his shot rose over the crossbar.
In the second period, Glenavon looked a lot brighter and managed to see a lot more of the ball. However, their hard work was undone on 55 minutes when a defensive blunder cost them the second goal. Substitute keeper Davy O’Hare rushed to the edge of the area but failed to pick up the ball and left that man Mar qiuis with a simple finish.
The Blues got back into their stride though and Gary Hamilton almost halved the deficit on the hour-mark. The forward burst past his marker and into the box and, from a tight angle, rifled a shot past Republic of Ireland stopper David Forde but it rattled the crossbar and bounced down onto the goal-line before spinning out to Guy Bates who sprung above the defence but could only direct his header narrowly past the post.
The Glenavon strike pairing had been linking up well with Hamilton really coming into the game after the break and Bates showing a good footballing brain, along with a lot of ability in his first game at Mourneview Park.
The new signing did well to flick a long ball on to find young winger Andy McGrory on 70 minutes but when his shot was blocked in the box, cries of handball were waved away by stand-in referee Shanks.
However, on 72 minutes, the win was sealed for Millwall when youth player Conor Wilkinson curled a perfect 30-yard effort into the top corner, a truly fantastic strike as the youngster begins his first-team career.
Wilkinson then set up Liam Feeney for what would have been a fourth goal but for Davey O’Hare, who did well to close down the winger before he could nick a shot over the keeper. And O’Hare’s work still wasn’t over as he had to save well from Aiden O’Brien as his shot was sneaking in at the bottom corner.
Despite the convincing score-line, Glenavon had put in a good display and if their attractive footballing style continues into the season, fans will surely be more entertained this term.
GLENAVON: Coleman (O’Hare 46), Shannon (McGarry 83), Neill (Rooney 83), Brown (Bradley 75), McCashin, McGrory (Munce 83), Kilmartin (Gardner 67), Doherty (Burrows 71), Toland (O’Kane 67), Hamilton, Bates.