We look ahead to this evening’s Toals Co. Antrim Shield semi-final ties and both games having the makings of cracking ties! Crusaders play host to championship toppers Larne. This fixture could be a big game for Larne to make a huge statement and warning shot to the rest of the Premiership teams. The other tie of the round comes at Ballymena showgrounds. David Jeffrey’s Ballymena host David Healy’s Linfield. Two in form teams and a very tough one to call!
The ‘Hatchet Men’ have started to gather some momentum again and look like the Crusaders we all know again. This will be no easy task for Stephen Baxter’s side tonight as they come up against a Larne side who are out in front comfortably at the top of the championship. Current shield holders come into this game high in confidence with five wins on the bounce. With a clean bill of health and a fully fit Crusaders squad I expect Stephen Baxter to play a very strong strong 11 tonight. The Crues will also want to set down a marker to Larne. Who will no doubt be playing Premiership football next year. The champions will be keen to let Larne know they are mixing it with the big boys now!
Championship run away leaders Larne who have yet to loose a game in the league also should approach this game with great confidence. They are scoring goals for fun and not letting many in the back door either! This is a massive opportunity for them to fire a warning shot to the Premiership clubs. Larne will be relying on goals tonight from their in form hitman Marty Donnelly who of course has done it all before against Crusaders with Cliftonville.
The ‘Sky Blues’ have made an incredible start to the season. They sit in second position just a point behind Linfield. Jeffrey’s men are high in confidence and are in remarkable form at the moment. Ballymena have not lost a game since they were defeated by Linfield at Windsor Park back in September. With the chance of a final DJ will have his troops ready for battle against his old club. The Linfield back line will have their hands full tonight trying to keep the in form Lecky and Friel quiet. If Balymena can win the midfield battle tonight they will have every chance of winning this one!
Linfield will be aiming to follow up on Saturday’s impressive victory over Cliftonville by booking their place in this years final. ‘The Blues’ sit on top spot after their impressive start to the season. The showgrounds always is a tricky away day for the Belfast club and even more so with Ballymena’s current form. Andy Waterworth bagged a hat-trick on Saturday and will be aiming to be on the score sheet tonight again. David Healy will be desperate for his side to get a result tonight as previous success in the Toals Co. Antrim Shield propelled their season winning the treble back in 2016/2017. I am predicting a real toe to toe battle tonight in what should be a good game!