Linfield is back on the road for day three of the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership, traveling along the shore of Belfast Lough to take on Carrick Rangers FC at the Loughshore Hotel Arena (2pm ko, cash gate available) .
Carrick Rangers, after a promising start to the campaign with a home win (2-1) over newly promoted Newry City, have since slipped to defeats at Cliftonville (2-3) and at home to Coleraine (2-4). ). For manager Stuart King, who signed a new two-year contract over the summer, there is the positive of five goals scored in the three games. Carrick’s team is a mix of youth and experience provided by, among others, Jim Ervin, David Cushley, Mark Surgenor, Ben Tinley, Andy Mitchell and Curtis Allen. The latter’s signing was announced by Carrick’s manager as a “statement of intent” from the East Antrim club. The highly experienced striker is a proven goalscorer with a long CV which includes time at Distillery, Linfield, Inverness, Glentoran and two spells at Coleraine,
Carrick’s tenure for the season will be to retain Premiership club status. Amber Army will be looking to improve on last season’s last nine-point buffer above the relegation zone. Much will depend this season on whether Carrick, a town with an imposing Norman castle, can turn its homeland into a fortress. The compact stadium has a narrow pitch with terraces close to the action, making it a “go-to hideout” for any visiting player! While it’s impossible to pick results on paper, Carrick as the season unfolds, will certainly target high-value points from teams in and around them in the table.
Linfield returns to the Premiership after a crushing midweek European loss to RFS at Windsor Park. It was a game and a tie that Linfield really should never have lost. With a historic victory on the cards seconds away, Linfield simply couldn’t see the game losing in the cruellest way. As the domestic season progresses, David and his team must first recover quickly, then the players, if they are to avoid any post-European hangover on Sunday at Carrick. Luckily, there are plenty of strong characters in Linfield’s locker room who are capable of stepping in! The Blues will now refocus on the main priority of defending their 56th league title in Ireland. With some ground to make up for and fewer matches, the Blues will leave on Sunday supported by their loyal supporters! COIB!