The Tennent's Irish Cup takes centre stage on Saturday at Windsor Park when Linfield entertain Ballyclare Comrades FC in the 5th round of the competition (3pm ko). The teams met at the same stage of the competition at Windsor Park in 2012 when Linfield enjoyed a comfortable 7-1 win.
The New Year got off to the best possible start for Linfield who returned to the top of the Premiership table after a hard earned victory (2-0) over Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena. After a relatively lacklustre first half, the Blues upped the tempo in the second to clinch the game with a couple of 'patented' Jimmy Callacher goals, both headed home direct from corners. There will always be some stages in a season when a team will need to grind out a positive result, and after a busy schedule of games over the festive period, the Linfield players were forced to do just that!
East Antrim side Ballyclare Conrades are currently sitting in a fairly comfortable eighth place in the NIFL Championship table. Manager Stephen Hughes though will still be targeting a string of results to make up ground on those teams, that have already been left in the wake of champions elect Larne, and are now left to compete for the Premiership play-off spot.
Ballyclare are also proudly celebrating their 100th year in existence as a football club. They were formed almost a century ago by veterans returning home from the Great War, most having served in 'C' Company of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, a battalion of men all from East Antrim who fought at the Battle of the Somme.
The Comrades of today come to Windsor which as the old cliche goes, 'with nothing to lose and everything to gain'. It would of course be a major upset if they could leave Belfast with their name in the hat for the next round draw of the competition. David though will certainly not be underestimating a Ballyclare side who can be expected to do more than just raise their game on the day. COYB!