Match day 35 of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership sees Linfield welcome Crusaders FC to Windsor Park (7.45pm ko) in the second-round fixture of the top six split. The stadium will of course remain closed to all supporters in accordance with NIFL Covid-19 safety protocols. This season Linfield have won all of the three league games played between the teams by the same 2-1 score line.
Last Saturday's 'Big Two' draw (0-0) at the Oval was a tense affair with chances in front of goal at a premium for both teams. The outcome of this top of the table clash hinged on two key incidents in the second half which saw Chris Johns save a Glentoran penalty and a last ditch goal line clearance deny Andy Waterworth a headed winner. David will have left the Oval the happier of the two managers with a hard-earned point that edges Linfield further along the home straight in the title race.
Crusaders arrive at Windsor on the back of a 3-1 home defeat to Larne that keeps the Shore Road outfit in sixth place in the table. Manager Stephen Baxter will now be focused on a European place with qualification through either the Irish Cup or a play-off tie. A lucrative place in the newly introduced UEFA Europa Conference League will certainly have a bearing on the Crusaders manager's recruitment plans for next season, and indeed, for the club itself as it continues to operate on a full-time basis.
David will be demanding a match winning performance from his players in what is another busy week of action in the NIFL. He will, along with his staff, be closely monitoring the squad and assessing his selection options in this physically demanding period. The addition of the Irish Cup in a condensed format has added to the pressure in this pivotal juncture in the season. A massive night for the Blues who can hopefully return to winning ways under the Windsor floodlights! COYB!