Matchday 21 of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership presents the traditional Boxing
Day 'Big Two' clash between Linfield and Glentoran to be played this year at Windsor Park (3pm ko). The teams have already met this season in October at the Oval with Linfield winning 1-0 and in the CAS Linfield triumphed 2-1 after extra time.
The stage is set for the most eagerly anticipated derby game of the Premiership season, which is a 'must see' for both regular sets of supporters and those not able to commit to attending games on a regular basis. Those who continue to question the validity of calling this derby a meeting of the 'Big Two', need only to look at the long list of achievements and vast haul of trophies lifted by both clubs for the answer.
In their last outing Linfield and fellow title contenders Glenavon fought out a close and entertaining scoreless draw at Windsor Park. Both teams spurned decent opportunities to edge ahead as several half chances came and went without being converted. The major post match talking point was the one big call of the game made by the referee when he controversially disallowed a second half 'goal' scored by Andy Waterworth. Whilst both managers were clearly left disappointed at dropping two points, David did however on reflection feel that the draw was probably just about the right result.
Glentoran have, after a fairly bright and promising start to the season, endured a run of poor results over the last few months. The East Belfast outfit now find themses ten points short of a bridge up into the top half of the Premiership table. Manager Ronnie McFall will be mustering up all the experience he has gained in nearly forty years in club management to turn the season around at the Oval. The one constant for the Glens this season has been the form of goalkeeper Elliot Morris. The veteran shot stopper has over the years proved his value to the club on numerous occasions in over 700 games between the sticks.
Derby games can often be tense and cagey affairs with goals usually coming in at a premium. Much will depend on those players who can settle down quickly to handle the big match atmosphere. Both teams will be aiming to come out of the blocks at a rate of knots to crank the pressure up on their opponents. This can act as a catalyst to bring the large numbers of partisan supporters in the stands up to full volume as they get behind their team. David will not however be fixating on form books as he prepares a game plan for what on paper will be seen by some as a home banker. Glentoran will be determined to make a statement with a big performance and a positive result. This is a derby game that affords very loud bragging rights for the supporters of the winning team. Let's hope the Windsor Roar is loud, positive and victorious at the final whistle this Boxing Day! COYB!