Cliftonville v Glentoran: Connolly out to keep Burrows at bay
Matty Burrows may be dreaming of repeating his wonder goal against Portadown when he takes on Cliftonville tomorrow, but Reds shot-stopper John Connolly isn’t prepared to let one shot slip through his fingers.
Connolly hopes Burrows succeeds where England failed in football’s corridors of power by winning the Fifa Puskas Award for the finest strike of the year, but he doesn’t want to be beaten by a stunning effort at Solitude.
A Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-final spot is up for grabs for the winners — if the game survives the Arctic conditions — and holders Glentoran will arrive in north-Belfast with a spring in their step after stunning Linfield in the final of the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday.
Connolly knows Burrows — who scored in the 3-1 win over the Blues at Windsor Park — is in red hot form, but he doesn’t want him to hit the headlines tomorrow.
“Matty scored against us at Solitude to put the Glens 1-0 ahead and although we turned the game around earlier in the season he remains a real threat to us,” said Connolly.
“He will keep our defenders on their toes, but if we all do our jobs we can keep him quiet. I hadn’t seen Matty’s strike against Portadown until a week later when I watched it on Sky and I immediately thought ‘what a strike’.
“He definitely meant it and you can tell that when you look at his technique.
“It was an amazing goal and I hope he wins the FIFA award.”
Glentoran are on a high after their Shield success, but Connolly says he never anticipates a stroll in the park against their cross-city rivals.
“Linfield and Glentoran fans demand their team win matches and the Glentoran fans would have expected them to beat Linfield on Tuesday night,” added Connolly.
“It’s always a very difficult game when we play them and you expect the Big Two sides to have a starting line-up packed with real quality.
“We are aiming towards that goal as well and we want to win trophies.
“Glentoran deserve a lot of credit because of what they have achieved this season, especially in the light of the off-field speculation, but they are the type of team that will always be tough opponents whether they are in the middle of a good, or bad patch.
“This is an opportunity to reach the semi-finals of a big competition and you cannot underestimate any opponent in that situation, especially the Glens.
“And they will be very confident after their win over Linfield.
“Hopefully, the match does go ahead because the fans and players will have been looking forward to it all week.”