Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton finished Saturday’s Mourneview Park meeting suffering from the pain of defeat on and off the pitch.
Goals by Cliftonville’s Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly proved decisive either side of an Andy Hall finish as Glenavon finished down and out due to the absence of both an attacking end product and defensive awareness.
Hamilton provided an early creative spark as the 39-year-old player/manager rolled back the years with a second successive Danske Bank Premiership appearance in the Glenavon line-up.
Having impressed in the previous weekend’s 2-2 draw with Crusaders, Hamilton opted to stick with the same side but had to conduct his post-match media duties on crutches before heading to hospital to x-ray an injury which forced him off on 27 minutes. James Singleton’s second-half departure, also due to injury, only served to increase the list of Lurgan Blues in the treatment room.
“I’m a bit disappointed with the result, I thought the first half we conceded a sloppy goal but were very good overall and could have been ahead,” said Hamilton. “Going by our own footage, Joe Gormley looked offside although he took it well - but it was a poor goal as we’d had put a great free-kick into the Cliftonville box which no-one attacked then they went up the pitch and scored.
“We then came into the game, played some good stuff and got on top of Cliftonville.
“We played the way we can and created enough chances to be winning at half-time.
“If you take Cliftonville’s goal out of it before the break, they didn’t really hurt us.
“Going forward we looked dangerous and caused Cliftonville a lot of problems.
“We had chances near the end, one for Kyle Beggs and then Andrew Mitchell put in a set-piece which we didn’t get on the end of in the box.
“In the first half we had two or three great deliveries which everyone missed and they should be goals.
“But they were better than us in the second half, we didn’t have that same buzz as before the break.
“Obviously we had to change it a few times due to injuries and that doesn’t help.
“When James Singleton went off it went a bit flat then up until the last five or 10 minutes.
“Again, it’s our luck at the minute as he has turned after the ball going out and done his ankle ligaments.
“Rory has then scored a great goal but, from our viewpoint, he hasn’t had to work for it.
“It’s off a throw-in and we should be marking tight, he’s done a bit of movement and been able to curl the ball without a tackle.
“That can’t happen at any level, especially from throw-ins and that’s the second time we’ve conceded off that situation in a few weeks.
“Unfortunately, that’s cost us the game.
“The one good thing is we are starting to get the performance levels people associate with us.”
And Hamilton will shuffle his squad for Tuesday’s Mid-Ulster Cup clash with Banbridge Rangers.
The Mid-Ulster Intermediate League visitors head to Mourneview Park aiming to produce a shock and secure a semi-final spot.
The Lurgan Blues’ preparations for the tie will be based on the treatment table given a significant injury list this season.
As a result, Hamilton’s aim is to use the Euro Electrix Mid-Ulster Senior Cup quarter-final to boost the minutes of some players and also offer others an opportunity to recharge and recuperate.
“Guys need rest,” said Hamilton after the Cliftonville game. “Rhys Marshall has been battered, Robert Garrett has been battered.
“Aaron Harmon has been playing a lot of games recently.
“But there will also be boys that need gametime too, players out injured or who missed pre-season.
“We have four back but not ready to start games yet based on 90 minutes of football or training sessions behind them at this point.
“Hopefully, we will have Josh Daniels back to get a game.
“It’s starting to look a wee bit brighter on that front but, again, today we lost two players (Hamilton and Singleton).
“But that’s life and the way things are treating us at the minute, we will just get on with it.”