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Linfield on red alert as Cliftonville set sights on big finish

By Graham Luney

The race for Europe continues at Windsor Park and The Oval this weekend with Cliftonville and Glenavon fighting it out to finish in third position.

With Crusaders claiming back to back Danske Bank Premiership titles, attention has switched to the European qualification scrap and relegation battles.

With only two games remaining, it's imperative that teams finish with a bang.

The Reds visit Linfield still in a state of shock from their poor display against the champions on Tuesday night with the 3-1 victory exposing defensive frailties at Solitude.

But the club is desperate to secure vital European funds to rebuild and boss Gerard Lyttle will demand his troops show some fight in their last two matches, at Linfield tomorrow and against Coleraine at the Showgrounds next weekend.

The Blues will have other ideas with boss David Healy warning: "The players are motivated and aware this is a big derby match and our record against them in recent years hasn't been good enough so we will be turning up strong and full of confidence to get the right result.

"There's huge competition for places and players also have an opportunity to put themselves in the picture for an Irish Cup Final place.

"I've a lot of time and respect for Gerard (Lyttle) and his team but it's our last home league game and we will thank the fans for their incredible support."

The Reds want to finish third and hope Linfield lift the Irish Cup, a scenario that will secure a Europa League spot.

If Glenavon win the Irish Cup or the north-Belfast side finish in fourth spot they will enter the play-offs and face the seventh placed side. The Lurgan Blues, who visit Glentoran tomorrow, are two points ahead of the Solitude men with a vastly superior goal difference. Glenavon host their Cup final rivals Linfield in their last league clash.

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