Larne hope to gain instant revenge against Cliftonville while Linfield travel to Carrick

Ronan Hale could hold the key to Reds success
Ronan Hale could hold the key to Reds success Ronan Hale could hold the key to Reds success

THREE days after being knocked out of the Irish Cup by Cliftonville, Sports Direct Premiership leaders Larne at back at Solitude hoping to not only overturn Saturday’s result, but to capture three-points.

The 2023 winners are chasing down back-to-back titles, and a win tonight would go a long way in helping them achieve that, although there’s plenty of football to be played before any silverware is handed out.

Goals from Jonathan Addis and Ronan Hale won the game for Cliftonville on Saturday and sent them through to the Irish Cup final where they’ll take on Linfield and they’ll be filled with confidence this evening.

Jim Magilton’s side are still in the hunt for their first title in ten years and currently trail tonight’s opponents by seven-points but can close that gap significantly if they hand Larne just a second league defeat of the campaign.

Larne haven’t lost a league match since last September and have won seven of their eight fixtures since the turn of the year, scoring 19 goals in the process and conceding just once, in their 6-1 win over Glenavon the last day out.

Andy Ryan is the joint-top scorer in the league with 17 goals to his name in 26 appearances while Lee Bonis, who rattled the net four times in that recent victory over Glenavon, has struck 16 goals.

Ben Wilson is the other player at the top of the scoring charts beside Ryan and Cliftonville’s hopes may rest on him continuing his deadly form in front of the posts and it could all come down to a real shootout.

Linfield are the closest team in the table to the league leaders as they trail Larne by just two-points, and they travel to Loughview Leisure Arena this evening for a clash with Carrick Rangers.

While David Healy’s side are battling for the title at the top of the premiership, Carrick Rangers are hoping to make it into the top six, so they need to secure victory on home soil this evening.

Linfield are in a fine run of form having won their last three league encounters while also securing their place in the Irish Cup final following an impressive 3-1 away triumph against Glentoran on Friday.

Kyle McClean hit two second half goals that guaranteed victory while he was also on target twice in their most recent league outing as they dismantled Newry City to win 6-1.

Carrick’s form has been somewhat jaded, but they did win the last day out against Ballymena United thanks to two goals from James Teelan and Nedas Maciulaitis, but they also lost to Newry City, who are bottom of the table, the week before.