United players are hungry to savour their first title honours: Glendinning
Ballymena United goalkeeper Ross Glendinning has admitted a first league winner's medal is a huge motivation for virtually all the Sky Blues squad.
Only former Linfield heroes Jim Ervin and Albert Watson, along with Cliftonville old boy James Knowles, have tasted title success.
United boss David Jeffrey brought Glendinning to Windsor Park but he was unable to get his hands on the game's biggest prize.
The Danske Bank Premiership race has evolved into a fascinating sprint involving Linfield and the Sky Blues, with fans now studying where points could be won and lost after the post-split fixtures were released yesterday.
In a showdown which could prove decisive, the game between David Healy's side and second-placed United at the Showgrounds will be shown live on BBC Two NI on Friday, April 5.
The match will be the first of the post-split clashes when the league divides into top and bottom halves.
Linfield lead Ballymena by six points, although the Sky Blues have a game in hand.
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Four of United's five post-split matches will be played at their Warden Street Showgrounds, while Linfield enjoy home advantage in three of their fixtures over the same period. The Blues travel to Coleraine on the final day of the regular season, with Ballymena playing Crusaders.
"I didn't get a league winner's medal at Linfield and that's a top aim in my career," said Glendinning. "You never know how often these opportunities will come around. There are eight games left and, while Linfield are in the driving seat and the favourites, we have given ourselves an outside chance of winning it.
"A lot of our boys haven't got that medal and we need to handle that because dealing with nerves and the pressure is all part of it. I believe we can ask questions of them until the end of the season. They have the greater experience in terms of winning titles but we have a great changing room and there's a great togetherness there.
"I don't think we get the credit we deserve because we are a young side playing good football. We can only get better and there's not a huge difference between ourselves and Linfield when you look at the stats.
"The team is gelling we can improve. After the Windsor Park game when we lost to Linfield, people thought it was going their way but their loss to Glenavon gave us a chance to regroup. Now it's about doing the business in every game.
"The Blues also lost in the Shield final but they have responded brilliantly to last season's poor form and, if anything, their recent setbacks will drive them on to return to winning ways. We face them on the Friday night after the split but we have to focus hard in every game.
"The post-split fixtures will mean nothing if we don't do the business in the next three games, including at home to Glentoran on Saturday."
Premiership post-split fixtures (3pm)
Friday, April 5 (7.45pm): Ballymena United v Linfield (live on BBC 2 NI)
Saturday, April 6: Glenavon v Crusaders, Cliftonville v Coleraine
Saturday, April 13: Linfield v Crusaders, Cliftonville v Ballymena United, Glenavon v Coleraine
Saturday, April 20: Linfield v Glenavon, Ballymena United v Coleraine, Cliftonville v Crusaders
Tuesday, April 23 (7.45pm): Linfield v Cliftonville, Ballymena United v Glenavon, Coleraine v Crusaders.
Saturday, April 27: Coleraine v Linfield, Ballymena United v Crusaders, Glenavon v Cliftonville
Friday, April 5 (7.45pm): Newry City v Ards
Saturday, April 6: Dungannon Swifts v Glentoran, Institute v Warrenpoint Town
Saturday, April 13: Dungannon Swifts v Institute, Ards v Glentoran, Warrenpoint Town v Newry City (5.30pm).
Friday, April 19 (7.45pm): Newry City v Glentoran.
Saturday, April 20: Warrenpoint Town v Dungannon Swifts, Institute v Ards.
Tuesday, April 23 (7.45pm): Ards v Dungannon Swifts, Glentoran v Warrenpoint Town, Institute v Newry City
Saturday, April 30: Newry City v Dungannon Swifts, Glentoran v Institute, Warrenpoint Town v Ards.