BETMCLEAN CUP FINAL TICKETS

Linfield are on the road for match day 33 of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership, when travelling to County Tyrone to meet hosts Dungannon Swifts FC at Stangmore Park (7.45pm ko, pay at the gate). There will be full coverage of the game on the BBC Sport NI Live Stream. This will be the third meeting of the season between the teams, with Linfield winning both home (4-0) and away (1-0). 

Dungannon have had a challenging season spent entirely in and around the relegation zone. On Saturday they repeated their recent Irish Cup win (2-1) at Cliftonville, to draw themselves level on points with tenth placed Newry City. A massive result, made all the more exceptional by the enforced absence through injury and illness of no fewer than ten first team squad players. And a victory that has perhaps given credence to manager Dean Shiels’ assertion, that his team can play their way out of trouble. The Swifts have also enjoyed the welcome distraction of an Irish Cup run, that has taken them to an upcoming semi-final tie with holders Crusaders at Mourneview Park. 

On Saturday Linfield were in seventh heaven, as they subjected visitors Newry City to a ruthless display of efficiency and professionalism. Indeed such was Linfield’s dominance, that with a quarter of the game still to play, David had cleared his bench with a full quota of substitutions. MotM Joel Cooper, who looked unplayable all afternoon, bagged four of the seven goals scored to take home the match ball. A good day at the office was further compounded with news of some beneficial results elsewhere, which resulted in the Blues finishing the day in second place in the table. 

Linfield will now almost certainly have to win all of their last remaining six League games, to have any chance of chasing down League leaders Larne. It is a challenge that will draw comparisons with the Linfield team of 2017, who went on a magnificent run of nine straight wins to lift the Gibson Cup at Solitude on the last day of the season. Can the Linfield team of 2023 possibly defy all the odds and pull off an equally dramatic finale to the season? 

David and his players will be expecting a tough night against a Dungannon side battling to fend off the threat of relegation and boosted by last week’s remarkable dramatic late win at the fortress that Solitude has become. The Blues will need to be ready to roll up their sleeves for what is likely to be a physical game on the new artificial surface. It is a night when the vociferous Linfield faithful can really lift the team with their support from the terraces! A must win game for the Blues! COYB! 

Ken Garrett. 
 

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