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Cliftonville v Ballymena: Lyttle admits Reds have big job ahead of them

By Conor McLaughlin

Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle feels his side face a stern test in the shape of a fifth round trip to face Ballymena United but firmly believes his players can step up to the mark.

The Reds recently overcame the Sky Blues as part of a six-game Premiership unbeaten run that has yielded 16 points to catapult them back to within touching distance of top spot, but Lyttle knows better than to take anything for granted against David Jeffrey's troops.

"We beat Ballymena a couple of weeks ago but it was a close-fought game and it was the same when they beat us down at The Showgrounds a few months back," he explained.

"They're a good team and everybody knows what having David Jeffrey on your side can do - he gets his players fighting for everything and I'm sure it'll be the same this time round."

United's assistant manager Bryan McLoughlin said: "It's a tough draw but we're happy to have been drawn at home, which is something we'll have to use to our advantage.

"Gerard has got Cliftonville playing some really good stuff but we've done well ourselves this season, so it's all shaping up to be a memorable game."

Gary Hamilton admitted that holders Glenavon are huge favourites to make progress at Portstewart's expense, but warned his players against any complacency.

"We've been beaten by Annagh in the last few seasons and Loughgall gave us a tough game last year," he said.

"If we're on our game, we know we've a good chance of winning but we can't afford to take anything for granted."

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