Aaron Harmon’s value to Glenavon is measured by his manager, Gary Hamilton, beyond minutes on the pitch.
The midfielder broke the deadlock on Friday to secure a welcome home win for the Lurgan Blues as Glenavon kept alive the Danske Bank Premiership title race by inflicting a first league defeat since December 1 on leaders Linfield.
That 2-0 victory was wrapped up by by Josh Daniels’ late strike but Hamilton had special praise for Harmon.
The former Carrick Rangers and Glentoran man, having battled back from cruciate trouble, had to prove the strength of his body to Glenavon over the summer to secure payment and a deal on paper.
However, his strength of mind and character never proved in question for Hamilton.
“As long as I’m at this football club, if Aaron wants to be here he will as his attitude is tremendous,” said Hamilton. “There’s people you want to see do so well and Aaron Harmon is one.
“He came into us in pre-season without a contract and with interest from other clubs but we had asked him to come down.
“Anyone who has worked with him will tell you he’s a top, top professional.
“I’ve always admired him as a player because of his never-say-die attitude and he can play.
“He didn’t get paid a penny in pre-season and, to be honest, we offered him a very poor contract but had to do that due to the risk of injury following his comeback from the cruciate problem.
“But we’ve talked since and sorted him out since so I’m delighted.
“I’m just glad he’s has come here, people like Aaron are infectious in the squad, he trains like he plays and just gives everyone a lift.
“He doesn’t play week in, week out but never complains or moans and, when he gets in, he never lets me down.”
Having lost four games at Mourneview Park in 2019, Hamilton opted to highlight the issue of the mindset required to handle high-pressure scenarios.
The Lurgan Blues boss put the spotlight on the supporters’ enhanced backing as a key boost on Friday.
“I’ve felt the last few games we’ve been just as good in those first 15 or 20 minutes, even in the defeats to Dungannon Swifts or Cliftonville,” he said. “But there wasn’t the same atmosphere or encouragement and when the fans get behind the team it’s easier for the players.
“When you concede a goal the players react off that and we’ve said before, as young lads, they need to be encouraged and backed.
“We do it for them in the dressing room but then it’s out of our control once they go on to the pitch.
“You can see a difference support makes compared to criticism.
“We’ve lacked that bit of confidence at home, especially in the final third.
“Any other side, having lost six players from the starting side, wouldn’t be sitting in this position so similar to the previous campaign.”
Linfield boss David Healy finished frustrated but remains positive.
“We missed chances at crucial times taken on another night,” he said. “We couldn’t get the first goal to give us the advantage then you get caught with a strike from outside the box.
“If you had said to me after losing at Ballymena on December 1 you would go on to win 11 out of 12 league games I’d have snapped off your hand.
“I cannot and will not be too critical of the players as they’ve been incredible.”