Matchday 25 of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership sees Linfield meet Crusaders FC at Seaview (3pm ko, all-ticket). The Blues will be making their second visit of the season to the Shore Road, having already won 2-0 there in August. The teams have also gone head to head at Windsor Park in August when Linfield recorded an emphatic 4-1 win.
Linfield stretched their lead at the top of the table to three points, after visitors Warrenpoint Town were defeated (4-0) in what could be described as a 'game of two halves'. In the first half Warrenpoint pressed high and were well in contention before MotM Jordan Stewart fired home just minutes before the interval break. Early in the second half, the pendulum swung firmly towards Linfield when they were awarded a penalty which Jordan duly converted for his second goal of the afternoon. The goals kept coming, with Andy Waterworth scoring with a well placed header, followed by a hat trick third goal for Jordan who finished off a slick move with a crisp volley. The game which had started so well for the visitors, ended with a flurry of yellow cards and a late dismissal for defender Matthew Lynch. This was a bit of slow burner for Linfield but one which thankfully ignited early in the second half into a red hot match winning performance!
Crusaders have also been banking plenty of points recently, with six straight league wins. In their last outing they had an away day win at Newry City (1-0) to further consolidate third place spot in the table. Winger Paul Heatley has been the man in form for the Crues, bagging 13 goals this season. Manager Stephen Baxter has been busy in the January transfer window, bringing Ronan Hale back to the club from Birmingham City via a loan spell at Derry City. Reece McGinley has also put pen to paper with a six month loan deal from parent club Rotherham United.
A fiesty, intense and competitive 90 minutes of football is always guaranteed when these two teams lock horns. With both teams in fine form of late, this will be a difficult game for any pundit to call. The compact Seaview stadium will be packed to the rafters for what is undoubtedly the Premiership 'game of the day'. The Linfield faithful have once again been showing their support for the club at the ticket office and from the stands. This support is greatly apprecited by David and all the players, especially coming as it does at a time of year when the family budget can often come under some pressure. Let's hope the Blues can lay down a big marker and deliver another positive result for the travelling supporters to savour on Saturday! COYB!