David Jeffrey’s Sky Blues come to Mourneview Park for Friday night’s Danske Bank Premiership fixture (kick off 7:45pm) as one of three teams unbeaten after the first three games of the new league season. The United manager has brought in a raft of new players over the summer and, if results so far are anything to go by, they seem to have quickly gelled together.
After the disappointment of losing the opening day game at home to Linfield, Gary Hamilton is looking to build on back to back away wins against Warrenpoint and Newry as he prepares to take on Ballymena tomorrow night. “Davy has changed the team around, he’s gone for younger players with more energy and in the games we’ve seen they’ve been playing a 3-4-1-2 formation. He’s obviously had a great start to the season so far, the results have been really impressive and we know, as we always know in this league, it’s going to be difficult. They came here at the end of last season and got a 0-0 draw and were very disciplined and hard to break down.
“We know we have to be better than we were against Newry last week. We weren’t at ourselves and, as I said after the game, I thought we were lucky. We didn’t have the same energy and we were carrying a few players if the truth be told but it’s been a decent enough start for us as well, in terms of results. We got beaten 1-0 by Linfield and that was probably our best performance of the three. It just shows you in football that sometimes these things happen. We were under par against Newry and got a win, when you probably don’t deserve it, then you play Linfield and get nothing from it when you probably deserved three points or at least a point.
“It’s very early in the season yet and there’s a long, long way to go. What we have to make sure tomorrow is that we get out of the traps early and start the game well. The biggest complaint I’ve had in the last couple of games is our start. We haven’t started brightly in the first 15-20 minutes, like we did against Linfield, though we did come into the games and managed to win. If you’re playing Ballymena in the form that they’re in at the minute, you have to get out of the blocks early and start with lots of energy and press them. They’re going to come here full of confidence and the last thing you want is to allow them to start the game better than you and get on top of you.”
Andrew Doyle, who missed out last Friday night at Newry after he tweaked his knee in the warm up, will be given a fitness test before the game. Sammy Clingan is likely to miss out after a recurrence of his calf strain in training this week but new signing Ben Doherty is available for selection after his International clearance came through and could be in line for his debut.
Ton Up for Sykes?
If Mark Sykes starts tomorrow night’s game it will be his 100th start for the first team. In all the young midfielder has made 118 appearances and has 17 goals to his credit.
One to Watch
Andy McGrory was one of the players that Jeffrey signed during the summer after the Glenavon winger decided it was time to move on in search of regular first team football. During his time at Mourneview Park he made 203 appearances and scored 37 goals including the memorable last-minute penalty against Portadown in April 2015 to guarantee European football for Glenavon.
He proved to a deadly marksman from the penalty spot but he may have to challenge the Sky Blues regular penalty taker Tony Kane – let’s hope neither get that opportunity tomorrow night!
Head to Head
Last 10 games (all competitions): Glenavon: W5 D3 L2 F28 A13
The last time the two teams met was at Mourneview in the penultimate game of last season when they fought out a 0-0 draw. In a game of few chances it was Andy McGrory who came closest to breaking the deadlock only for United skipper Jim Ervin to clear his effort off the line.
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