Glenavon: Paul Millar’s rally cry for Crusaders challenge

Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar. Pic by Pacemaker.
Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar. Pic by Pacemaker.

Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar is urging his players to push on from Monday’s dramatic fightback success.

The Lurgan Blues - with just a single success from the previous five league games in 2019 - suffered a setback to trail Glentoran by a single goal entering the closing stages.

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter. Pic by INPHO.

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter. Pic by INPHO.

However, player/manager Gary Hamilton stepped off the sidelines to inspire a turnaround in fortunes by scoring an equaliser before Conor McCloskey’s late winning goal.

Now Millar wants Glenavon to build on the buzz from that victory with another Belfast boost under the floodlights.

Glenavon face Crusaders at Seaview tonight sitting just three points behind the defending Danske Bank Premiership champions with a game in hand on the third-place outfit.

“We finished third last season and everyone thought it was brilliant, however, sitting fourth now is suddenly cause for certain comments,” said Millar. “Results have been a reason for frustration more so than panic by those within the club and we accept we let ourselves down at times.

“However, when you look back at the number of players gone or unavailable due to transfers or injuries over the season, then to still be in this position behind clubs with the squad sizes of Linfield, Ballymena United and Crusaders says a lot.

“We showed real character on Monday not to accept the situation despite not having played that well in the second half.

“No side can be brilliant every week and this season has been littered with teams dropping points.

“There is still so much football to be played so we want to really use Monday’s win to drive forward.”

Sean Ward - fresh from signing a contract extension at the Seaview club - is relishing the remaining challenges for Crusaders.

The defender has penned terms that increase his deal until May 2020.

“With a final to contest, Irish Cup hopes still alive and we will not be giving up the Premiership title easily there is a lot to play for this season and, of course, we go again when it all starts in pre-season come June,” said Ward on the club’s official website. “I am really pleased to be here to at least 2020 now I have put pen to paper.

“I have really enjoyed being part of a unique squad of guys and the supporters have been brilliant with me from the minute I arrived.”

And Crues boss Stephen Baxter highlighted Ward’s “winning mentality” and “presence both on the pitch and in the dressing room”.