Supersub Conor McCloskey highlights backing from the Glenavon bench before his late winner against Crusaders

Conor McCloskey heads over to the Glenavon dug-out following his winning goal against Crusaders at Mourneview Park. Pic by INPHO.
Conor McCloskey heads over to the Glenavon dug-out following his winning goal against Crusaders at Mourneview Park. Pic by INPHO.

Two of Gary Hamilton’s January arrivals proved at the heart of the weekend win over Crusaders but, ultimately, the old guard grabbed the glory.

Calum Birney’s commanding centre-back performance restricted the threat of Jordan Owens and Danny Purkis produced an energetic performance along the home frontline to offer hopes for success in Lurgan blue following January deals designed to get the under-performing panel back on track.

However, the three points were wrapped up by the Mourneview Park men thanks to goals from Josh Daniels and Conor McCloskey - two players familiar with the highs and lows of life at Glenavon across recent years.

Daniels proved alert to capitalise on the confusion created by Jonny Tuffey’s upfield punt which left Billy Joe Burns in a twist within the strong wind conditions. That helped Glenavon cancel out Paul Heatley’s first-half opening goal - with substitute McCloskey grabbing a long-range winner just four minutes after stepping off the bench.

“Kyle Neill kept saying to me before I came on he had a feeling I was going to score today - lucky for me I did,” said McCloskey. “That’s why I ran over to the bench to celebrate when I scored.

“When I was hitting the ball I was trying to find the target as I knew the wind would take it that bit extra and, thankfully, it found the bottom corner.

“The main thing was initially trying to get it under control when Danny Purkis headed it back to me, I was aware the wind may take it away or it could skip off the ground.

“Sometimes this season we’ve maybe lacked that cutting edge but today we were strong at the back and managed to see out the rest of the game.

“We have had a rough few weeks and Gary Hamilton has taken the brunt of the stick but, as players, we have to stand up and be counted as what goes on out on the pitch is down to us.

“We haven’t been good enough and our first goal today gave us a wee bit of luck in the box where it found Josh Daniels and he was able to poke it home.

“We’ve been on the receiving end of that constantly throughout the year, so it was nice for something like that to fall for us.

“No-one wants to be on the bench, everyone wants to start but, unfortunately, that’s not possible.

“But if I keep doing what I’m doing it’s a good headache for the manager - I’ll just keep doing whatever’s best for the team.

“Gary’s gone out and signed experienced winners and he’s looking to rebuild for next year.

“Gary’s put his faith in us so we are trying to see out the rest of the season and see where it takes us.”

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Larmour, Doyle, Daniels, Moorhouse (Jenkins, 75), Harmon (Burns, 68), Clingan, Purkis, Singleton, Birney, Davidson (McCloskey, 82).

Subs (not used): Taylor, Byrne, Beggs, Farren.

CRUSADERS: Doherty, Burns, Lowry, McGonigle, Caddell, Forsythe, O’Rourke, Owens, Brown, Thompson (Cushley, 73), Heatley.

Subs (not used): O’Neill, Beverland, Ruddy, McGinley, McElroy, Dummigan.

Referee: Jamie Robinson.