Irish Premiership: Reds target revenge against leaders Crusaders

Crusaders beat Cliftonville 4-0 at Solitude on 26 December
Crusaders beat Cliftonville 4-0 at Solitude on 26 December

Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle says he won't need to motivate his players for the game against leaders Crusaders who hammered them 4-0 on Boxing Day.

That crushing north Belfast derby loss is the only one the Reds have lost in a run of 12 Premiership games and they are 10 points behind their rivals.

"I don't think the boys will need a team talk after what happened the last time we played Crusaders," said Lyttle.

"I thought we let a lot of people down and hopefully we can put things right."

The top half of the Irish Premiership table
The top half of the Irish Premiership table

Crusaders, seven points clear of second-placed Linfield, have already beaten third-placed Cliftonville twice it the league this term, but manager Stephen Baxter knows Saturday's opponents will be hurting following that festive embarrassment at Solitude.

"No manager likes losing three or four, it is a punishing experience, humbling sometimes," said Baxter who is aiming to complete a hat-trick of championships with his Seaview side.

"But Cliftonville have quality footballers. The last time we got our noses in front and then got away from them a little bit. They are capable of doing the same to us.

"We won't underestimate them because they are a top team."

Defenders Niall Quinn and Matthew Clarke have signed contract extension at Linfield
Defenders Niall Quinn and Matthew Clarke have signed contract extension at Linfield

Linfield, Premiership runners-up to Crusaders for the last two seasons, continue their pursuit of a first title since 2012 by hosting Ballymena United on Saturday.

Blues manager David Healy has announced that five players have signed contract extensions at Windsor Park.

Defenders Matthew Clarke and Mark Haughey and reserve keeper Gareth Deane have accepted three-year deals.

Full-back Niall Quinn has agreed terms on a two-year contract and central defender Mark Stafford for one-year.

Ballymena, fourth in the table, lost 2-1 away to Linfield in December.

Portadown, nine points adrift at the bottom of the table, host Glenavon in a Mid-Ulster derby.

"The derby games are the pinnacle of the season and if you cannot get up for them you should not be playing football," said Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton.

"We have to crate more chances than we have been doing against the bottom six sides. That has been the most disappointing thing for me this season."

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - 21 January (15:00 GMT)
Coverage on Radio Ulster from 14:00 GMT
Ballinamallard UnitedvColeraine
Carrick RangersvDungannon Swifts
CrusadersvCliftonville
LinfieldvBallymena United
PortadownvGlenavon

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