Belfast Telegraph

Andrew Mitchell out to cause twist in Coleraine's title tale as Glenavon seek Euro place

By Alex Mills

Glenavon hot-shot Andrew Mitchell insists his team will be handing out no favours in today's Danske Bank Premiership final day showdown against title chasing Coleraine at Mourneview Park.

Oran Kearney's Bannsiders must win to have any chance of registering their first Gibson Cup success since 1974.

But the Lurgan Blues have their own agenda - they are looking for a third-place finish in the league table that could eventually punch their ticket to European football.

Although most eyes will be on the race for the title, Mitchell stresses Glenavon will be out to protect their one-point lead over Linfield that would guarantee third spot.

"It's a fantastic end to the season at both ends of the table, the title race and the relegation battle will be sorted out on the last day," said Mitchell.

"Coleraine will be getting all the headlines and rightly so.

"They've had a great season and have chased down Crusaders every step of the way, but now something must give between the two.

"However, we still have everything to play for in terms of finishing third in the table. That could be good enough for us to get into European football. Of course, it all depends on Coleraine winning the Irish Cup.

"If that doesn't work out, we'll go into the play-off system with three other teams, so there is still a lot to play for."

Glenavon squandered the chance of stretching their lead on the Blues last weekend when they were held to a scoreless draw by Ballymena United.

Mitchell describes it as an opportunity missed.

"There are no easy games in this league, especially at this time of the season," he added. "I'm not going to criticise Ballymena.

"They came and set up a solid defensive formation which was difficult to break down.

"I certainly thought we were hard done by because we were deprived of a stonewall penalty when one of their players (Johnny Flynn) handled the ball inside the box. But some you get and some you don't.

"We are still one point ahead of the Blues, so it's essential we pick up three points from this game. It's in our own hands."

Mitchell believes Glenavon will have one big incentive to finish the league campaign with a swagger because Coleraine are the only team they haven't managed to defeat this season.

"We've lost one and drawn two of our three meetings," he adds. "They are the only team we haven't beaten, so it would be nice to put that right.

"There is no doubt they'll be coming to our place oozing with confidence. They have been the form team this season, without a shadow of doubt. They have been beaten only once in the league campaign which is a phenomenal achievement.

"But we have to be professional about things. We've had a good season. Although we are working with a smaller squad of players compared to last season, Gary (Hamilton) has again brought through some great young players from the academy, which has paid a big dividend.

"The latest two to come off the academy conveyor belt are Jordan Jenkins and Robbie Norton. They are definitely two for the future."

Mitchell has so far managed to net 20 goals, but he hopes he isn't finished yet.

"That was my original target at the start of the season," he added. "I'm happy with that, but I'd be a lot happier if I could improve on that, so I'll be doing my best in this final league game and in the Euro play-offs if we end up there."

Glenavon vs Coleraine

Danske Bank Premiership

Mourneview Park, Today, 3pm

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