Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville are ready to net the points at Windsor Park

By Graham Luney

Be afraid Linfield, be very afraid. I have a feeling in my bones that Cliftonville are going to do the business at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Before you Linfield fans start panicking, it should be noted that I've been wrong in the past... many times!

I've had more than a few Arsene Wenger and David Moyes moments.

Football has slapped me in the face more than once but I can't see lightning striking twice.

By that I mean I cannot see Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley go missing in action again like they did against Glentoran.

The deadly duo fired blanks against the Glens but they haven't run out of bullets and they will be even more determined to demonstrate their finishing prowess in the Windsor showdown to make amends for their sloppy showing in east Belfast.

So all roads now lead to Windsor Park. Bring the travel sickness pills just in case.

At this moment in the season, I'd like to stand up and applaud both Cliftonville and Linfield.

Regardless of who wins the league, both sides can, in the words of Blues boss David Jeffrey, be "immensely proud" of their performances.

At Linfield there has been a lot of personnel changes but despite a shocking start and the unexpected announcement of Jeffrey's end of season departure, the Blues are the most improved team this season by some distance.

Of course they are still in the driving seat in the race for the title, holding a two points lead with only five games remaining, but even if they fall short again the players should reflect on a magnificent effort.

Last season the Blues finished 29 points behind the champions. A year ago they weren't even at the races. Now they are out in front.

If Cliftonville lose their championship crown it will hurt the Solitude men deeply.

The opportunity to become the first Reds team to defend the title will disappear.

But, again, regardless of what happens in the coming weeks the players have underlined their hunger to challenge for honours again.

Cliftonville are an outstanding football team. The front two get the plaudits but across the park they ooze quality, ability, composure and class. But ability only gets you so far. Their winning mentality, hunger and desire has thrust them to the very top of our domestic game.

I can see them being a formidable force in the coming years. This football club has rubbished the argument they are one season wonders.

As for this Saturday's game it's not a title decider but that won't stop us telling you that it is!

From Cliftonville's perspective they are running out of matches and a failure to win this weekend will hand Linfield a fantastic chance to realise their dream.

In these scenarios the team that needs to win more usually does so my prediction is 3-1 to the Reds.

Linfield will be without the suspended Sean Ward and Philip Lowry and this news strengthens my belief the visitors can triumph.

The Blues missed a golden opportunity to strengthen their grip on the Gibson Cup on Saturday and it could come back to haunt them... as early as this weekend.

And if David Moyes can guide Manchester United into the quarter-finals of the Champions League we are entitled to believe that the Reds can win at Windsor!

Never mind the El Clasico – this is the Bel Clasico and there's a lot at stake.

If Linfield do win the fat lady will not only be clearing her throat but preparing for a YouTube performance.

Belfast Telegraph


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