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World Cup 2018

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No old pals' act as Glenavon man Mitchell aims to cut down Dungannon

 

By Adrian Rutherford

Andrew Mitchell is determined to cast sentiment to one side tonight as Glenavon seek to move to joint-top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

The spotlight will be on the striker as he faces his former team Dungannon Swifts for the first time.

Mitchell scored 49 league goals in three seasons with the Swifts before rejoining his boyhood club during the summer.

Inevitably, the occasion will stir the emotions and some memories. He scored a late winner when the sides met at Mourneview Park last December.

However, the 23-year-old insists his focus is now firmly on Glenavon, who would go joint-top with a win tonight.

"Dungannon were fantastic for me," Mitchell said. "That is where I really developed and blossomed, and I am so thankful to them for giving me that opportunity. But I had to move on. It was the right time to go, and I'm concentrating now on doing well for Glenavon.

"You can't think about the past. It's all about where you are at the present. I'm at Glenavon and I want to do well for them.

"I hope that come Friday night we will be on the right side of a really well-fought game and hopefully with three points in the bag."

This is a fixture which has always had a touch of the ex-factor.

From Andy Coleman and Ryan Harpur in the Swifts squad to Mitchell, the connections between these Mid-Ulster rivals run deep.

It also carries edge - when the sides met just over a year ago, three red cards were produced.

Mitchell expects another night high on drama.

"It is a Mid-Ulster derby and the games can get feisty, which is always good for the fans," he said.

"It's a game we are really, really looking forward to. If both teams play to their full potential it will be a good spectacle."

Mitchell was at Glenavon as a teenager but made little impact.

After a season on loan at Ards, he arrived at Dungannon in 2014, soon becoming one of local football's most prolific finishers.

The lure of returning to the club he supported as a boy proved too great this summer, but he will always hold affection for the Swifts.

And, inevitably, when the fixtures for the season were published in June, this was the first match he sought out.

It is a chance to renew acquaintances, and he can expect some close attention from Chris Hegarty and David Armstrong.

Those two have emerged as one of the top defensive pairings in the league and will be key to Dungannon's hopes tonight, and Mitchell has plenty of respect for both players.

"I know what the two of them are like - they are two fierce competitors and two very good footballers," he added.

"I am really looking forward to coming up against them. I know it's going to be a good battle but hopefully I will come out on the right side."

Fixtures to come

Friday (7.45pm): Glenavon v Dungannon Swifts

Saturday (3pm): Ballinamallard United v Ards, Ballymena United v Coleraine, Cliftonville v Linfield, Warrenpoint Town v Carrick Rangers

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