Cliftonville & Linfield to play first of two quarter-finals in a fortnight
County Antrim Shield quarter-finals: Linfield v Cliftonville (tonight, 7.45pm)
TONIGHT sees the first of two quarter-finals between Cliftonville and Linfield in the space of a fortnight after Saturday's League Cup draw also pitted the fierce rivals against each other in that competition's last eight.
Reds boss Paddy McLaughlin was impressed with the way his players “put their bodies on the line” in Saturday's hard-fought 1-0 victory over Larne at Solitude. He will be hoping it is that version of Cliftonville's defence that turns up at Windsor Park tonight as opposed to the one that leaked two goals to Bangor in last week's League Cup victory at Solitude.
While the striking prowess of Joe Gormley and Ruaidhrí Donnelly has been largely credited with Cliftonville's promising start to the season, it was Ryan Curran who grabbed the winner against Larne and they will need this variety of quality consistently if they are to challenge on a number of fronts into the winter.
Linfield have put four goals past Dungannon Swifts on two separate occasions within the past week and look to be getting back into their stride following their Danske Bank Premiership defeat to Crusaders earlier in the month. David Healy will once again be without the services of Shayne Lavery, who is away on international duty with the North's U21s, but young strikers Matthew Shelvin, Daniel Reynolds and Charlie Allen have been making impressive cameos in his absence.
Elsewhere tonight, Stephen Baxter is likely to be without the services of Jordan Owens, Billy Joe Burns and Howard Beverland for their quarter-final against Ballymena. The trio picked up injuries in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Ballymena and Baxter is likely to mine his squad for tonight's return trip to the Showgrounds.
At the Oval, Glentoran will host Larne while Harland & Wolff Welders' reward for their victory over Carrick Rangers in the last round is a trip to take on Ards.