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Perfect pre-season preparation is paying dividends for Glenavon, says Sykes

By Adam McKendry

Glenavon have made a flying start to their campaign - they currently sit third in the Danske Bank Premiership - and midfielder Mark Sykes says it's down to their pre-season preparation.

The league's leading scorers, with 21 goals in six games, have quickly shaken off last season's disappointing sixth-place finish and have begun this campaign in strong form.

Their 2-0 win over Carrick Rangers at Mourneview Park on Friday was their fourth victory of the season so far. After being frustrated for the entire first half, they finally broke the deadlock through a Sammy Clingan penalty before Andy Mitchell ensured the three points.

And man of the match Sykes says this is just a continuation of an excellent build-up.

"Pre-season was unbelievable to be honest," the midfielder stated. "Kris Lindsay, player-coach at the minute, and another fella Gerry came in and it just went off. Last year the boys were sloppy in pre-season, the results weren't going our way, but this season it's nice to start with wins.

"Coleraine last week was disappointing but we kicked back."

The win was a welcome relief after two weeks without a victory, with the 4-2 defeat at the Coleraine Showgrounds preceded by a thrilling 2-2 draw with Glentoran. And 20-year-old Sykes, part of a youthful core in the Lurgan Blues side, says that Lindsay was adamant they wouldn't drop points again.

"Kris came in (during the week) and said to us we don't lose two games in a row at this club so it was nice to get the win," Sykes said.

Next up for Sykes and Glenavon are Cliftonville, who make the trip to Mourneview on Saturday coming off the back of their first win since the opening day.

It's a fixture that has provided some high-scoring encounters, and with Glenavon in free-scoring form and Cliftonville boasting some of the best striking options in the league, it looks like that could be the case again.

But Sykes is confident that his team can do the job again.

"Hopefully the momentum is back with us," the midfielder said. "We always seem to do really well against them so hopefully the result goes our way and we get another three points there.

"That's our aim, stay as high in the table as we can and see where we are at the end of the season."

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