BETMCLEAN CUP FINAL TICKETS

Match day 11 of the Sports Direct Premiership ushers in the first 'Big Two' derby of the season, with Glentoran FC the visitors to Windsor Park (7.45pm ko, all-ticket). There will be full live coverage of the game on BBC2 NI (7.30pm).

Glentoran have made a disappointing start to the Premiership season, with a lack of consistency proving costly for the East Belfast outfit. The Glens have slipped off the early pace in the title race, sitting fifth in the table. In their last league outing they were on the wrong end of a 2-1 score line at Carrick Rangers. They did however make a return to winning ways mid-week, with a home win (2-0) over Premier Intermediate side Dollingstown in the Bet McLean League Cup.

Manager Warren Feeney has certainly had a chequered first few months in his tenure at the club. The significant loss of key players Conor McMenamin (St Mirren) and Terry Devlin (Portsmouth), made it a far from ideal start. Their transfer deals brokered did however ensure the financial resources needed for replacements was in place. The Glens boss has been quick to put his stamp on the team, with the arrival at the Oval of free agents Cameron Palmer (Linfield), Fuad Sule (Larne), Daire O'Connor (Ayr United) and Josh Kelly (Ballymena). The return of defender Patrick McLean, who had stepped away from the game in February, has added further depth to the squad.

Linfield were also in mid-week action when they began their defence of the Bet McLean League Cup, with a hard-fought home win (3-1) over a lively, well organised Queen's University side. As the game unfolded, it became clear that David made the right call when selecting a strong starting XI, after Queen's took an early lead. The Blues upped the ante, hitting back with a double goal salvo from Joel Cooper, and an insurance third goal from substitute John Robertson.

The stage is set for another one of those special derby nights between these two great old rivals. With ticket sales already in overdrive, there is sure to a large attendance at the 'Park'. For Glentoran, a win would be massive as they strive to bridge the eight-point gap that separates the two teams. Linfield as the early front runners in the title race, will be focused on staying ahead of the chasing pack by banking all three points. With plenty at stake for both teams, it promises to be a tense ninety minutes+ on the pitch and in the stands ! COYB!

Ken Garrett.