County Antrim Shield: Linfield begin defence against Ballyclare Comrades

Linfield striker Cameron Stewart scored the opening goal
Cameron Stewart's header gave Linfield a third-minute lead in February's Shield final win over Crusaders

Linfield will begin their defence of the County Antrim Shield against Championship side Ballyclare Comrades at Dixon Park on Tuesday night.

The Blues have won the competition a record 44 times and beat Crusaders 3-1 in last season's final in February.

Ballyclare lie second in their league and will hope for a repeat of their shock 1-0 success over the Belfast giants in the League Cup in 2014.

Several of the senior clubs are expected to rotate their squads.

The Crues are at home to Donegal Celtic, while Cliftonville face Championship leaders Knockbreda at Solitude.

Glentoran will hope to continue their impressive early season from when they host Crumlin Star, while PSNI will be out to cause an upset away to Carrick Rangers.

Ballymena United and Harland and Wolff Welders have been regular cup opponents in recent years, with the Sky Blues running out 3-0 winners when the sides met at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago.

Their last competitive encounter came in the sixth round of the Irish Cup in February, United winning 3-1 after extra-time., although the Welders won 2-0 in a pre-season friendly in July.

Ards are away to Larne and Dundela entertain Glebe Rangers in the only first-round tie which does not involve a Premiership club.

County Antrim Shield first round - Tuesday 19 September - 19:45 BST kick-offs
Ballyclare ComradesvLinfield
Ballymena UtdvH&W Welders
Carrick RangersvPSNI
CrusadersvDonegal Celtic
DundelavGlebe Rangers
GlentoranvCrumlin Star