Patterson after winning formula for Cliftonville
A week on from a memorable win against Celtic, Eddie Patterson is planning on giving Cliftonville fans another big night to remember.
And the Solitude boss has no intention of making those supporters pay to watch a glorified reserve team.
While other clubs, in particular Glentoran, have used the County Antrim Shield to give younger players first-team experience, Patterson will send out his strongest team possible for tonight’s semi-final against Linfield at the Oval, in a repeat of last season’s final — which was won by the Reds.
“The County Antrim Shield was the first medal I won as a player and the first trophy I won as a manager, so for that reason it’s an important competition for me,” said Patterson.
“It’s a senior competition and for that reason alone it has to be taken seriously.
“It’s a chance for us to get to another final and to take a step towards winning a trophy.
“It would be great for the fans and for the club to have another big night out and there is no way that I would short-change the fans by putting out anything other than the strongest team available to me.”
The team may not be as strong as Patterson would like though. Not only is he down with a cold, Ronan Scannell, Ciaran Donaghy and Liam Boyce all missed training last night as well for the same reason.
That may hand starting places to Ciaran Boyd and Mark Clarke, with Aaron Smyth and Liam Fleming both banging on the door for a first-team recall too.
Nobody will need to remind Linfield fans of the last time they faced Cliftonville.
On that occasion the Reds hammered four goals past a beleaguered Blues side, but since then the fortunes of the two teams have been totally contrasting.
Linfield have won five domestic games in a row as well as a 1-1 draw with Derry City in the Setanta Sports Cup.
Cliftonville on the other hand have won just once, against Lisburn Distillery in the Shield quarter-final.
“We’ve only played in fits and starts since the Linfield game. The inexperience of some of our players leading to inconsistency,” said Patterson.