Matthew Clarke looks ahead to Friday’s Irish Cup tie

Posted : 3rd February 2022

In conversation with Jamie Megarry of official Club media, Linfield defender Matthew Clarke admits the team’s performance was below par in last week’s 3-0 defeat to Coleraine at The Showgrounds but he says the Blues want to move on quickly for tomorrow’s second round Irish Cup tie away to Larne, a fixture which sees a repeat of last year’s final.

“Last week was very hard to take. We all are very aware that our performance was below par and we got the beating we deserved from Coleraine. It is important we put that behind us now for what’s a very important match at Inver Park tomorrow night.”

Although the result was one he’ll want to forget, congratulatory messages were amass across social media and beyond in the aftermath for the left back who made his 300th Linfield appearance in last week’s game at Coleraine, an achievement Clarke is rightly proud of.

“Yes, I am very proud to have made 300 appearances for the biggest club in the land. I know everyone close to me is very happy for me too. I hope there’s still plenty more to come as I’m still only 27.”

Although Linfield won last season’s Irish Cup final against Larne, it was the Inver men who edged the Co. Antrim Shield final between the sides just a few weeks ago but the former Rangers man says neither will play on Linfield’s mind going into the game.

“To be honest, I don’t think it’ll be on our minds too much. We all know what the Irish Cup means to everyone inside and outside of the club. We don’t want to give it up after winning it last season. The Shield final has no bearing for us as we’ll be treating this as another game. We’ll be concentrating on our own game to try and put in a strong performance on the night. Hopefully, we can get a big result.”

In a boost ahead of the game, Linfield secured two deadline day signings with the arrivals of Ben Hall and Kieron Evans, adding to Jake Hastie, Ethan Devine and Chris McKee who also arrived during the January transfer window, and the Artigarvan native believes those additions have lifted the squad.

“The new lads have all settled in very well and they look to have brought further quality to the squad. I think the new signings coming in definitely gave us all a lift. Competition for places is healthy and they’ll help ensure that’s the case.”

Clarke – who has already made 35 appearances for the Blues this season, scoring two goals – believes the Linfield supporters can give the team an extra ten percent at Inver Park tomorrow night.

“The away fans always play a massive part for us when we travel away from home. The Linfield supporters have really got behind the team in recent away fixtures and they give you that extra 10% as a player. I have no doubt they will get right behind us tomorrow night as they’ll recognise this is an important match.”

Tickets were in high demand for the away end and the game will be broadcast live on BBC iPlayer for those without a ticket. Kick-off 7.45pm

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