Preview of Tuesday night’s Shield Final

Posted : 10th March 2019 at 20:52:15

Linfield head into their second cup final of the season when they meet holders Crusaders FC at Seaview in the County Antrim Shield Final (7.45pm ko, all ticket, played to a finish on the night). Linfield and Crusaders have lifted the CAS trophy a total of 44 and 7 times respectively.

It was a miserable night both on and off the field for Linfield who lost 2-0 to Glenavon in Friday night's televised game at a bitterly cold and rainswept Mourneview Park. Linfield with the wind at their backs, dominated the first half but were unable to find a way past Glenavon keeper Jonathan Tuffey who made several first class saves. It was Glenavon however who took an early lead in the second half with a long range strike from Harmon. As the half progressed MotM Tuffey continued to frustrate the Linfield forward line as they pushed on for an equaliser. This left the Blues vulnerable to the quick counter attack which duly arrived allowing Glenavon to score a late goal and effectively kill the game. At the final whistle David was left to rue on a series of missed chances which cost Linfield crucial points in the title race. A disappointing fourth league defeat of the season was sealed bringing Linfield's impressive run of ten consecutive Premiership victories to an abrupt end. The Linfield players will now regroup and move forward as a unit.

Crusaders were handed some welcome extra time to prepare for Tuesday's Final after their weekend fixture at Warrenpoint was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Stephen Baxter's team have enjoyed some good form in recent weeks which has seen them reach the CAS Final, progress to the semi-final stage of the Irish Cup and remain just off the pace in the race for the Premiership title. With some crucial games looming on the horizon, the Crusaders manager will be looking for his team to make a statement of intent by retaining the CAS trophy in front of their own home supporters.

David will be demanding a big performance from his players as they go for their second piece of silverware of the season. It promises to be a tight encounter between two evenly matched sides who are both well versed in how to handle big games and what it takes to win them. With this in mind, it would be no surprise to see the game go all the way to extra time before a victor emerges. On the night there will be plenty of big match atmosphere generated by both sets of supporters in the compact Seaview stadium. After a weekend of heavy rainfall, hopefully the weather gods (and Frank Mitchell) will conspire to keep the elements at bay, at least in North Belfast! COYB!

Ken Garrett.

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