Gary's late,late show clinches vital win
They may have left it late, but Glenavon secured a vital 1-0 over Ballinamallard United at Mourneview Park on Saturday.
Forget the 90 minutes which saw little in the way of football, the all important moment arrived in stoppage time as manager Gary Hamilton scored what could be a massive goal in the race for Europe.
With both Cliftonville and Coleraine both losing this was a big win for the Lurgan Blues.
It was a result, to be honest, that did not seem likely entering the latter stages and a draw seemed on the cards.
However up popped Hamilton to get the vital touch and the fans who had endured a frustrating afternoon were suddenly off their seats and going home with smiles on their faces.
Glenavon went into the game with several players missed, Daniel Kearns still not fully recovered from a groin strain, both Andy Kilmartin and Ciaran Martyn were also out with Kevin Braniff back in after a bout of flu.
The home side didn’t start too badly with Andy Hall’s deliveries into the box causing problems and the first chance fell to Fabio who darted past a cluster of players to get in a shot which rolled wide of the post.
There was a let-off for Glenavon when Jonny Tuffey was off his line after coming out to head clear, the ball fell to Ivan Sproule and his half volley sailed over the keeper but hit the right hand post.
That about summed up the first half action, fans hoping it would get better in the second period.
United seemed to be content to sit and hit Glenavon on the break but generally the back four looked comfortable all afternoon.
The longer the game went on it looked as if one goal would settle it and Mark Sykes almost got it in spectacular fashion with a sweetly hit half volley from 30 yards out that rose just over the bar with the keeper well beaten.
Mark Patton came on for Joel Cooper and his surging run set up a chance for Hall but the keeper saved with his legs.
Then Hamilton replaced Fabio in a last throw of the dice and the player manager put Braniff in the clear but again the United keeper did well to make a key save.
Ballinamallard were set to earn a point as the game edged into stoppage time, but then a Hall free kick was flicked on to Hamilton who stuck out his right boot and Glenavon had secured all three points to moved into third spot, two points ahead of the Reds.