Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Do Linfield have bottle for Cliftonville challenge?

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

David Jeffrey shows where he wants Linfield to finish
David Jeffrey shows where he wants Linfield to finish

Cliftonville don't play in the Irish Cup tomorrow. They were knocked out of the competition by Coleraine earlier.

Of course the Reds would prefer to be involved but they can sit back and relax, knowing they have enjoyed a wonderful week moving to the top of the Danske Bank Irish Premiership.

Last Saturday's vital 1-0 victory over Linfield was followed by Tuesday's 3-1 success at Ballymena, taking Tommy Breslin's side one point ahead of Linfield, who could and possibly should be out of sight by now.

First the Blues failed to beat bottom club Ards, missing the opportunity to go seven points clear at the top, and then, not for the first time in recent years in the league, failed to deliver a result at Solitude when even a draw would have kept them five points ahead.

Suddenly Linfield, who host Ballymena in the cup tomorrow, are playing catch up and facing questions about their mental toughness.

Cliftonville's Marc Smyth stated: "The Blues should have had the league won. If we had been playing Ards to go seven points clear and then faced Linfield the week after, we would have had the league won as we would have won both games."

Talk about putting it up to your title rivals?

We all know Linfield manager David Jeffrey has the character to be a league champion again. Ditto experienced players like Michael Gault and Jamie Mulgrew, but when the going is extremely tough with the Reds rampant, I wonder do the rest of the Blues have the bottle for this battle. Time will tell.

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