Match day eleven of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership sees Linfield welcome Newry City AFC to Windsor Park (3pm ko). The teams met in last season's Irish Cup when Linfield took the spoils in a close tie at Windsor Park (1-0 ). Saturday's game will be Newry's first league game here since 2011 when the points were shared (1-1).
It was a Monday night of 'Eastern delight' as Linfield defeated (1-0) Glentoran in front of the SKY Sports cameras at a wet and windy Oval. A solitary strike from Michael O'Connor was enough to see the Blues home but what a goal it was! Joel Cooper was the architect with an incisive run through the middle of the park, leaving a trio of Glentoran players in his wake, before slipping the ball to O'Connor who fired neatly home to give Linfield the lead. Whilst the game itself was by no means a classic, both teams gave it their all in some difficult conditions. This was a big night for the Blues who took home the bragging rights and the win needed to take them up to within a point league leaders Glenavon.
As the title race begins to build up some momentum, Linfield are looking in good shape ahead of some big games in the fixture list. The cornerstone of Linfield's impressive unbeaten start to the season has been a miserly defence which has conceded just three goals in all competitions. David will certainly be hoping that the old adage 'attack wins games, defence wins titles', rings true for the Blues this season. Up front, the Blues have also impressed with the emergence of young striker Michael O'Connor and the quality play of winger Joel Cooper shinning through. The Linfield squad as a whole looks well prepared for the long haul of the title race, with quality cover in place for each postion in the team.
Newry City AFC come to Windsor on the back of a disappointing defeat (3-0) at Ballymena United. The border club are positioned in ninth place in the table just above the dreaded relegation zone. Manager Darren Mullan's remit for the season must be to retain their status as a Premiership club. The recent history of the club reads like a work of fiction which began with the enforcement of a High Court winding-up order back in 2011. The club was then completely rebuilt and restructured from the bottom up to go on a remarkable roller coaster ride of four promotions in five years! During the summer months some vital Premiership experience was added to the Newry squad when veteran keeper Andy Coleman and winger Stefan Lavery both signed on at the Showgrounds.
With the postponment of Glenavon's home game due to call-ups for the U21 international squad, Linfield now have the opportunity to climb back to the top of the Premiership table. David will certainly not be taking anything for granted against a Newry side determined to take something from the game. Any sort of result for City would help inch them further away from the chasing pack at the bottom of the table. A competitive afternoon of football seems assured as both teams battle it out for some vital league points. COYB!