Belfast Telegraph

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Hamilton relishes sight of Sykes back on top form

Glenavon 2-2 Glentoran

By Steven Beacom

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is delighted to see midfield dynamo Mark Sykes back to his best.

Sykes scored a cracker and produced an exceptional all-round performance in Saturday's entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Glentoran.

It followed a dip in form from the Northern Ireland under-21 international who had been sensational for the first part of the season.

Given his ability, it was perhaps a surprise that Sykes did not move across the water in January but having signed a new deal at Glenavon, it is clear, if Saturday is an indication, he is determined to finish the campaign on a high.

Hamilton said: "Mark had a wee bit of a lull period over December, which he knew himself, and then he got a couple of suspensions which knocked him off his stride a little bit but in the last couple of games he has been excellent.

"Against Crusaders he was superb and he was the same again against Glentoran."

After Sykes put the home side ahead they dominated and but for missing some good opportunities and fine goalkeeping from Elliott Morris they could have been out of sight in the first half.

By the final whistle they were happy to earn a point with Marc Griffin netting an 89th minute equaliser after Curtis Allen and the impressive John McGuigan had put the Glens in the lead.

Glenavon remain in third spot, but they are now just four points in front of Linfield. The target for Hamilton in the run in is to qualify for Europe.

"You always have ambitions to get European football and we are no different to any of the top seven teams because they all have a chance to get into Europe," he said. "Obviously it would be nice to finish as the third top team in the league. That's what our aim is."

Hamilton was aggrieved at some refereeing decisions which he felt went against his team at Mourneview Park. Opposite number Ronnie McFall believed his side should have had a second half penalty, but when quizzed on the standard of officiating, the Glens boss said: "I'm not getting involved in that. It is a difficult job and I'm not going to criticise officials."

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Burns (McGrory, 73 mins), Daniels, Doyle, Marshall, Mitchell (Griffin, 68 mins), Marshall, Sykes, Clingan (Foley, 85 mins), Murray, Singleton. Unused subs: Norton, Kelly.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Redman, Allen, O'Hanlon (McGuigan, 53 mins), Gordon, McMahon, McDaid, Garrett, Addis, Kerr. Unused subs: Davidson, Ferrin, Kelly, D Nelson.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

Man of the match: Mark Sykes

Match rating: 7/10

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