Linfield head up to the Causeawy Coast on match day 36 of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership, when meeting Coleraine FC at the Showgrounds (3pm ko, all-ticket). This season the teams have met three times at Windsor Park, with Linfield winning twice (IPL 2-0, LC Final 2-0). The third game, along with a fourth played at the Showgrounds, saw the points shared in scoreless draws.  

Coleraine have endured a frustrating season which began with expectations of success running high at the club. With a much stronger squad in place and the goals of Matthew Shevlin, the Bannsiders looked set to mount a sustained title challenge. Unfortunately though, with the team now sitting sixth in the Premiership table, success this season will be defined by European qualification via the playoffs. 

Linfield's hopes of retaining the Gibson Cup look to have all but ended, after Wednesday night's home draw (1-1) with derby rivals Glentoran. In a rather disjointed game, both sides were well below their best on the night. But having looked the slightly better side, Linfield edged in front with a neatly judged glancing header from a corner by MotM Sam Roscoe. Hopes of landing a crucial win were dashed when the Blues were unable to manage the game out, with Glentoran scoring late into added time. A hugely disappointing result that has left champions elect Larne needing just one more point to lift a first ever League title, which they could possibly secure at Seaview tonight. 

Linfield will now have to ensure they end the season strongly, retaining second spot in the table, and the automatic European qualification place that goes with it. With three games away from home left to play, the Blues will need to be firing on all cylinders, if the dreaded play offs are to be avoided! The Showgrounds of course is always a difficult ground to take a result away from. But hopefully, the Blues can do just that, with a confidence boosting match winning performance on Saturday. COYB! 

Ken Garrett.

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