Hopes are Sky high

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THE Sky cameras roll into town for Monday nights first derby clash of the season as Glenavon take on Portadown at Mourneview Park and Gary Hamilton is hoping ‘stage fright’ does not strike again.

This will be the fifth time Glenavon have played in a live Sky game and they have yet to gain a point or even score a goal.

Hamilton wants his players to ignore the cameras and treat Monday’s game against Portadown like any other.

Hamilton admits that a “mental block” regarding the live games can happen but with seven summer signings arriving at Mourneview Park and young players also stepping up from the reserves, the boss hopes that his side will have enough fresh blood to get over their previous form in front of the cameras.

“There’s that extra buzz about the game when it’s live on TV but hopefully we’ll be able to concentrate on playing when it comes to kick-off time, treat it like any other match and get a positive result,” he said.

“We all know that Glenavon have struggled when they’re on Sky. It’s been four games now, they’ve lost four and haven’t scored a goal so hopefully we can improve on that and get a good positive result.

“I only played in one of those games but sometimes it can become a mental block.

“The good thing is that there is a new squad now and a lot of those players haven’t been involved in the previous matches. Those guys haven’t got the excuse of a mental block.

“The only matter will be whether we are good enough to beat Portadown, who will be a top team come the end of the season. That will be the telling tale.”

Portadown have also had a somewhat indifferent start to the Danske Bank Premiership season and Hamilton is wary of facing a backlash from Ronnie McFall’s men after they surrendered such a convincing lead just last weekend.

“It will be no easy game because they’re in the same boat as ourselves in that they’ve struggled to get results early on,” said Hamilton.

“The loss to Coleraine will be a massive kick to them having been 3-0 up and they drew with Donegal Celtic a few weeks earlier too. By all accounts, they should have been beaten so they haven’t been firing on all cylinders either.

“That’s what happens when you bring in new players. They lost striker Matthew Tipton and brought in five or six new faces so it just takes time for everyone to bed in. There’s no doubting that at the end of the season they’ll be in the top three or four teams because they have quality right through their squad.”

Hamilton also says that the game provides a chance for young players from either side to give themselves an opportunity to get a move to professional football with managers potentially tuning in to the game on Sky Sports 1.

“It’s a great opportunity for the young players and is a great shop window for them,” he said.

“A lot of people watch these games throughout the UK and further afield. Managers may be sitting down and watching these games and all it takes is one good performance to catch somebody’s eye and they’re in the shop window.”

Last season Glenavon lost three out of four meetings with their Mid-Ulster rivals, the only win coming in the last meeting of the season in the Irish Cup, the Lurgan Blues winning 2-1 on home soil.