Glenavon, having tipped the points tally towards home advantage last Friday, face Dungannon Swifts this weekend aiming to close off the pre-split Mourneview Park schedule in style.
Victory over Danske Bank Premiership league leaders Linfield by 2-0 left the visitors with a first defeat in the title race since December 1 as goals by Aaron Harmon and Josh Daniels kept the Lurgan Blues’ lifeline alive in search of a top-three finish.
The win left Glenavon on 28 points in front of the home support, with 26 arriving on the road over a league campaign disrupted by inconsistent form defined by manager Gary Hamilton as an inevitable outcome of multiple established players leaving the club for various reasons over the course of the season.
Now, with Dungannon Swifts coming to town aiming for a repeat of last month’s Irish Cup scalp, Hamilton has issued a rally cry to the fanbase for renewed backing over the remainder of the run-in.
“We now need to build on what was a superb performance supported from the fans in a significant way,” said Hamilton. “Everyone has the same goal in mind - Glenavon winning games of football.
“You could see on Friday the difference it made having the fans get behind the team.
“Linfield are expected to attack and that, in turn, can leave open space in behind for us to exploit, compared to teams in the lower half of the table who come to Mourneview and maybe sit deeper and defend.
“Under those circumstances, it is important for our fans to show patience with the players and not react negatively if we are sitting level or even a goal down.
“The key for us is the role the fans can play sticking with our players as that has a massive impact on self-belief.
“Obviously fans are entitled to voice frustrations but, particularly with our young squad, getting behind the players can really have a positive impact.
“Against Linfield few expected us to get a win so the players went out with that freedom to just express themselves.
“When there is a level of expectation to win, in those games we may need the fans more than ever.”
Dungannon Swifts will prove a familiar foe for Glenavon - with Saturday marking a fifth meeting of the campaign between the clubs across all competitions.
The Irish Cup defeat stands as the only occasion to date in which the Swifts have finished flying high from the most common fixture of Glenavon’s calendar.
“I started the season obviously at Glenavon then went to Mourneview Park for my first match as Dungannon boss so, overall, it seems like we’ve played this fixture loads,” said Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. “Glenavon may have lost some players and had a few disappointing results but also signed experienced names in January and come into Saturday off some impressive performances.
“For us to get that league win off the back of losing in the Irish Cup was important to show the character in our squad.
“We go into the match without any suspensions but need to analyse a few injuries before Saturday.
“When I came in at Dungannon the priority was to get off the bottom of the table.
“But now we are in seventh it is important to push forward and secure points towards protecting that position.”