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Breslin urges fans to make it loud for visit of Crusaders

Cliftonville 5 Ballymena United 0

By Conor McLaughlin

Tommy Breslin has urged Cliftonville's supporters to pump up the volume when Crusaders visit Solitude for a mouth-watering North Belfast derby today.

The Reds remain 11 points clear of their neighbours at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership thanks to Saturday's 5-0 thrashing of Ballymena United, which Breslin admits was hardly like-for-like preparation for the Crues' visit.

"This is the latest in a long line of important matches for us," he said.

"When you're in the position we're in, every game is big and every point matters. We've said for a while now that, so long as we keep winning, we can't be stopped but that's easier said than done.

"We've been on a very good run but so have Crusaders. If you look at their recent schedule and the teams they've played, the results they've got have been fantastic.

"Both teams are in very good form and, while it's not a league decider or anything like that, you can be sure that both will really be going for it.

"We have a good record at home and the players are confident about their chances against anyone, but we know Crusaders will really put it up to us. These are the sort of matches that everyone should relish and I'm sure our fans are looking forward to it.

"Hopefully we can get a big crowd to come out and support us, really get behind the players from the start and help us towards what would be another very important three points."

Liam Boyce opened and closed the scoring on Saturday – his second taking him to within five goals of equalling SN McCaw's 70-year-old club record for most goals in a single season – and, though his tally now sits at 30, it was the somewhat less prolific Ronan Scannell whose first strike of the campaign doubled the lead midway through the first-half.

Stephen Garrett and Ciaran Caldwell were also on target against a Sky Blues outfit which saw midfielder Mark Surgenor play the final 12 minutes between the sticks following an injury to custodian Dwayne Nelson.

"Psychologically, we have got to be stronger," said United boss Glenn Ferguson. "Teams lose matches, it's part and parcel of football, and Cliftonville have been beating everyone all season long which is why they'll go on to win the league. They were deserving winners here, just as they'll be deserving champions.

"From our point of view, we can't keep crumbling once we've conceded one or two. We've had fives, sixes, sevens and eights against us this season and it's something that needs addressed."

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