Linfield are on the road for match day 8 of the Sports Direct Premiership, when travelling to the Orchard County to face Loughgall FC at Lakeview Park (3pm ko, all-ticket). The last league fixture between the teams in 2007, saw Linfield record an emphatic away day win (6-0).

Newly prompted Loughgall have been the surprise package of the season so far, making an almost seamless transition from the Championship to life in the Premiership. The Villagers have already exceeded all expectations with a strong run of results that has elevated them up into fifth place in the table. In their last outing they came from behind to take the points with an impressive win (3-1) over basement club Ballymena United at the Showgrounds. Manager and former player Dean Smith, has understandably set his stall out when targeting survival as the base line for the campaign ahead. This remains a daunting task for a football club, which holds the record of being the smallest settlement (282) to stage top flight football in Europe!

Linfield lost their unbeaten start to the Premiership season with a disappointing defeat (0-2) to Larne at Inver Park. An off-kilter performance from the Blues, was accentuated by a lack of clinical finishing and some slack defending. David and his staff have certainly been left with plenty to ponder on after this chastening defeat. With just one clean sheet in seven league games, the Blues simply cannot hope to keep outscoring their opponents in every game they play!

David will be demanding a massive reaction from his players when they cross the line at Lakeview Park. The Blues will need to be at their best against a fired up Loughgall side. There will be a red-hot atmosphere inside the compact stadium, with an expected large attendance on the day. Hopefully the Blues will reset and reach the level of performance that will be needed to ensure a quick return to winning ways! COYB!

Ken Garrett.