Larne looking to cash in their Bonis again against the Blues
Danske Bank Premiership: Linfield v Larne (tonight, 7.45pm)
LARNE are aiming for a hat-trick of wins tonight against champions Linfield and will travel to Windsor Park with big money signing Lee Bonis in fantastic form and confident mood.
Striker Bonis may have only moved from Portadown to Inver Park last month in a package reputedly worth £100,000 but he has already earned the respect of his new team-mates and will aim to add to that this evening.
Bonis made his debut for Larne in their County Antrim Shield final success over Linfield in January, found the net in fixtures that followed and on Friday night scored twice to knock the Blues out of the Irish Cup.
Another big performance from the Northern Ireland U21 ace and Tiernan Lynch's side could do serious damage to Linfield's bid to win a fifth Premiership crown in six seasons.
Unsuccessful in all the knockout competitions, Linfield's only route to trophy glory this term is the league title. They have dropped to second place behind Glentoran recently and need to re-assert their authority though that won't be easy against Bonis who has been a thorn in their side with Larne and his previous club Portadown and is currently looking like value for money.
Experienced Larne defender Albert Watson was hugely impressed by the brilliance of Bonis last time out.
"Lee put in a massive shift. His work-rate against Linfield was unbelievable and he deserved his two goals," stated Watson.
"From his first kick of the ball he won the ball and I knew from minute one we were on it and that drives a team on and gives you confidence. We got our goals and limited them to very few chances and earned a clean sheet which was massive for us."
For Larne the plan will be the same again though Linfield will be a wounded tiger seeking to roar in the wide open spaces of Windsor.
Blues boss David Healy has backed his team to show their quality moving forward and react positively to a disappointing run of results.
If the poor form continues this week Linfield's hopes of silverware could be done and dusted with Glentoran facing them at the Oval on Friday after the game with Larne tonight.
With 13 fixtures left the east Belfast outfit are two points clear at the top and will fancy winning at struggling Portadown tonight to set themselves up perfectly for the Big Two derby.
Cliftonville aren't out of the title race but six points behind Glentoran, Paddy McLaughlin knows his men need to put together a series of positive results to surge closer to the frontrunners.
That could start tonight away to Carrick where the Reds won a hard fought Irish Cup tie on Saturday with a late Ronan Doherty effort. Conditions were dreadful at the weekend restricting the free flowing football of McLaughlin's side but they showed strong battling qualities and will need more of that to overcome Stuart King's team this time around.
Elsewhere tonight Crusaders take on Ballymena United at Seaview while improving Dungannon Swifts could cause problems for Coleraine at the Showgrounds.
Tonight also sees former Portadown boss Matthew Tipton take charge of Ards for the first time following his weekend appointment. Ards are away in the Championship to second placed Loughgall who can close the gap to leaders Newry City to five points with a home win.