Matchday 23 of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership sees Linfield drop anchor at a second port of call in a week when they play Warrenpoint Town FC at the newly renamed Q Radio arena at Milltown (3pm ko). This will be Linfield's second visit of the season to the 'Point', having already enjoyed a 4-1 win there in September. Last month the teams met again and shared the points in a 3-3 draw at Windsor Park.
There was plenty at stake for both teams in Tuesday night's rearranged fixture with Carrick Rangers at a wet and windy Taylor's Avenue. The deteriorating weather conditions and heavy pitch ensured that this was always going to be a physical battle, with the determination and conditioning of the players being paramount to success. And so it proved to be, as Linfield just edged out Rangers with a well worked second half goal fired home by new boy Kurtis Byrne. As the final whistle went, there was relief for both the players and the hard core contingent of supporters who had braved the elements on what was a terrible night to be outdoors. A massive three points for Linfield who need to continue pushing towards at least a league finish which would guarantee European football for next season.
After promotion to the Premiership Warrenpoint Town have, not unexpectedly, found their first season back in the top tier to be a challenging one. Matthew Tipton's team currently find themselves sitting just above the relegation zone in tenth place in the table. Crucial to their hopes of survival is the form of striker Darren Murray who has hit 10 goals in 18 league games, putting himself firmly on the radar of several Premiership clubs. The Warrenpoint Board will be bracing themselves, as interest in the player heightens before the calendar in the January transfer window runs down. On Saturday the focus for Warrenpoint will be to turn the tide with a much needed first win in twelve games.
For Linfield the quest continues to make up ground on the top three teams. With points now at a premium, the Blues need to keep winning games and hope that results elsewhere, at least on occasions, can go their way. This will be a tough game for Linfield who will meet a fired up Warrenpoint side. And of course they will probably have to cope with the strong winds that can often ebb and flow during the course of a game at the exposed Milltown stadium. Its another important afternoon of football for David and his players who really must take home all three points. After surviving Carrick on Tuesday night, hopefully there will be plenty of sunshine both off and on the pitch for the travelling Linfield supporters! COYB!