Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon must use momentum to win 'huge' Coleraine clash: Mitchell

By Adrian Rutherford

Andrew Mitchell says the momentum is with Glenavon ahead of tomorrow's trip to title hopefuls Coleraine.

Second plays third in the match of the day in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Glenavon are unbeaten since the turn of the year, while the Bannsiders have lost just once all season. However, Mitchell insists the Lurgan Blues are more than ready for the challenge of facing Oran Kearney's side.

"It's a huge game - absolutely huge," he said. "Coleraine are absolutely flying but we want to go there and give a good account of ourselves. We certainly won't fear going there.

"We've played them already this year. They beat us once and we drew at home, albeit we should have won that day. So it will be an interesting game.

"We have Ards on the Tuesday night as well, so it's a big few days for us."

Glenavon are 13 points behind Coleraine, but have two games in hand and are in terrific form.

They haven't lost since a 3-1 defeat at Ballymena on December 30.

Last weekend they swept into the quarter-finals of the Tennent's Irish Cup, and in midweek beat Newry City to collect the Mid-Ulster Cup.

For Mitchell, the target for the remaining matches is simple.

"We can't get too ahead of ourselves - our aim is just to play to our best every week and try and win every week," he said.

"We are realistic enough to know it won't always happen, but we're fortunate in that this season we've been doing quite well.

"It's about continuing that and having that belief in ourselves to do so. Momentum is massive in football and at the minute we have it.

"I can't remember the last time we lost. We're not getting beat, and it's important we take that form into Saturday."

Mitchell scored in last Saturday's 3-0 cup win against Dungannon, and has 12 goals in the league so far this term.

He admits it will be a tall order to match the 25 he scored with the Swifts last season.

"I'll be doing well to get 25 this season," he said. "I've got 12 in the league so far, so if I can get another 10 or so and get past 20 I'll be happy."

Anything higher than third still looks a big ask for Glenavon.

But if they beat Coleraine tomorrow and then Ards on Tuesday night, then the gap would be down to seven with a game in hand.

Despite his side's impressive form, boss Gary Hamilton knows Coleraine will be a big test.

"It's going to be a tough game as always," he said. "They're flying at the minute - in the calendar year of 2017 they were probably the best team.

"They have kicked on into 2018 in the same manner.

"We know going there is not going to be an easy task and anything less than a top performance won't get us a result."

Glenavon go into the game lifted by their Mid-Ulster Cup triumph in midweek as a youthful side overcame Newry City 3-1 at the Newry Showgrounds.

Keith Johnston put Newry ahead on three minutes but Andy McGrory levelled from a penalty before half-time with Stephen McCavitt and Jack O'Mahony netting for Glenavon in the second half.

Meanwhile, Ballymena United have snapped up defender Conor Quigley on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

The 20-year-old former Northern Ireland schoolboy international joins from Dundee, having previously been on the books at Swansea and Liverpool.

United will take on Cliftonville at the Showgrounds tomorrow in the semi-final of the BetMcLean League Cup - weather permitting.

Sky Blues boss David Jeffrey said: "For a player of his age he has amassed quite a bit of experience having played in England and Scotland. We were alerted to his availability and Conor joined us in training to see how he fitted in with the squad. Certainly we saw potential that deserved giving him an opportunity.

"Bryan (McLoughlin) and I have always been clear about giving young players a chance, and there is no better club to do that than at Ballymena United.

"Between now and the end of the season we will be working hard with him to make him the best that he can be.

"We have Steven McCullough at left-back, who has consolidated that position. We also have young Lee McCune, who made his debut against Moyola, however he has picked up an injury. Bringing in Conor gives us renewed competition for places, which is what we strive to do."

Belfast Telegraph

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