Belfast Telegraph

Larne go to Windsor with only victory over Linfield on their mind

 

Red letter day: Mark Randall celebrates his goal against Glentoran and now Larne have Linfield in their sights
Red letter day: Mark Randall celebrates his goal against Glentoran and now Larne have Linfield in their sights

By Steven Beacom

Larne will respect Linfield today but will travel to Windsor Park without fear. That's the message from manager Tiernan Lynch ahead of an eagerly awaited first meeting of the season between the clubs.

David Healy's men were supreme in the top flight last term, winning the title, while Larne were runaway victors in the Championship.

They were due to play earlier in the campaign at Inver Park, with the game scheduled to be shown on Sky Sports in September, but it was postponed due to international call-ups for the Blues.

They will finally go head to head this afternoon with a large support from Larne expected at Windsor to roar their heroes on.

When owner Kenny Bruce started to plough millions of pounds into the club it was for days like this.

Understandably, it has taken Larne a little time to find their feet in the Irish Premiership following promotion. Early on they were beating struggling sides but found the going tough against the big guns.

Lynch's men are now competing strongly with the top dogs and were unfortunate not to overcome Cliftonville last weekend. That one finished 1-1 - the sixth league draw for Larne this term. No one has more.

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Tiernan Lynch
Tiernan Lynch

Many years ago Larne followers would have been overjoyed at the prospect of leaving Windsor with a point but Lynch, who has done a super job at the club, is aiming for all three.

"Linfield are a top side and we respect them though there is a sense of excitement about going to Windsor and getting on the big pitch rather than any fear," says the Larne boss, taking charge for the first time at the national stadium.

"We obviously look at who we are playing and get the stats on them, look at set pieces and study their strengths and weaknesses and assess where we feel we can exploit but we are not a team that gets overly carried away about the opposition.

"We watched them against Glenavon and Ballymena in their last two games and they have quality players who can hurt you if you aren't on your A game. Like any team though there are weaknesses."

Larne are in sixth place in the table, 14 points adrift of leaders Coleraine and nine behind fourth placed Linfield.

On the season to date Lynch, who will look to improve his squad in the weeks ahead, adds: "I believe we are moving in the right direction on and off the pitch. We've had some good performances lately and could have been beaten Cliftonville last week.

"Once we turn our draws into wins we will be in a very good place.

"The boys work really hard on a daily basis and now we are getting our diet and nutrition and weights right I think we can only get better."

Midfield enforcer Fuad Sule is back from a ban to play alongside Jeff Hughes and Mark Randall but striker Johnny McMurray is suspended.

Tomas Cosgrove is also out until after Christmas after being handed a seven-match suspension following his red card against Dungannon.

Frenchman Bastien Hery misses out for David Healy's men after his dismissal in Tuesday's 2-1 win at Ballymena.

Linfield vs Larne

Danske Bank Premiership:

Windsor Park, Today, 3.00pm

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