Tough start to campaign for Blues

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GLENAVON’S IFA Premiership campaign is set to kick off on Saturday, August 11, with a trip to face Cliftonville at Solitude.

The league’s fixtures were announced on Monday evening and set Glenavon with the tricky opening day trip, followed by a home match against another top six team Glentoran a week later.

The Blues will also face away days to Portadown and Donegal Celtic on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day respectively, but host Linfield in between on Saturday, 29th December.

Meanwhile, their first trip to newly promoted Ballinamallard United will take place on Saturday 29th September.

First team coach Nigel Law says the management team will now sit down with the full fixture list, which can be found at www.glenavonfc.com, and set a target for the season ahead, looking to improve on last term’s display.

“It’s all about making progress and taking baby-steps,” he said.

“Now that the fixtures are out, we will sit down and divide the season up into blocks and set points targets for those blocks. The season will therefore be managed on micro and macro levels and rather than setting ourselves a target of a league position, we will set goals for each block of the season and have an overall points target to hit.

“If we can achieve that, the league position will take care of itself.”

The first of those sections will be the first five games against Cliftonville, Glentoran, Dungannon Swifts (H), Donegal Celtic (A) and Portadown (H) and is a key period for Glenavon, according to the coach.

“It’s very, very important for us to get off to a good start,” he said.

“From speaking to people at the club, it seemed to be a problem last year that the club struggled to put three points on the board early on. That creates anxiety and it means you’re looking at games as ‘must-win’ early on in the season and adding pressure to the players.

“The first two games are tough, but a challenge that we relish. We went up to Solitude last season and took the lead. We then didn’t manage the game very well and lost our way but we finished strongly. We also beat Glentoran 1-0 at Mourneview Park and that win gave us a real buzz, as we deserved to beat them in that game.

“The games will be a challenge but they provide us with a good opportunity to show that our hard-work and the understanding we are creating is paying off. We will aim to be picking up points from those games.”

The next two games, against Dungannon and Donegal Celtic, are Glenavon’s first two against fellow bottom-six sides from last season, and Law says the Blues must be looking at winning those matches if they are to have a relatively successful season.

Law is also keen to stress the importance of the club’s supporters as they look to move up the league table, but knows the team have a duty on the pitch to attract fans back through the Mourneview Park gates.

“The supporters are important and we want to do all we can on the pitch to get as many as possible in through the turnstyles.”

The Blues will be back in action as soon as Saturday, 7th July, when their pre-season starts with a trip to Larne (kick-off 3pm), after training begins this Saturday afternoon