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Cliftonville hope for thaw

Cliftonville are preparing a warm welcome for Glentoran on Monday night as the Reds aim to beat the big freeze — and Alan McDonald’s side.

The Sky Sports cameras are due in town to screen the Reds v Glens battle for the second season in succession.

And despite the chill, Cliftonville are refusing to concede defeat to the arctic conditions which have wiped out almost the entire football programme at junior, intermediate and senior level this weekend.

“It may be a slim chance that the game will be on, but we’re doing all in our power to get it on,” said Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor.

“Preparations are going ahead as normal, the scaffolding that Sky need has been erected and the Sky people who are coming over booked their flights on Friday, so they are approaching it as if the game is on.

“It has been agreed between ourselves, Sky and the Irish FA that we keep going and try to get the match on and we’re working hard to ensure that happens.”

The Reds are pinning their hopes on a rise in temperatures over the weekend thawing out the Solitude surface as well as clearing the snow from the surrounding area.

And Lawlor is hoping that for once the weather forecasters have got it right.

“We’re not oblivious to the weather conditions and we’re not trying to get a game on when realistically it is unlikely to happen,” said Lawlor.

“The forecast is for temperatures of around four or five degrees on Sunday. We just have to hope that the forecast is correct and if it is then we’re hopeful that the pitch will thaw out.

“We’ve had parts of the pitch covered since earlier in the week and we’ve heaters being brought in to try to help thaw the pitch out.

“These are big industrial heaters that will be placed under a tarpaulin.

“We haven’t had a home game since December 19 and we are still having to pay our players, so we’re feeling the pitch at the minute and Glentoran bring the biggest away support to Solitude so we want the game to be played.”

Belfast Telegraph