Lynch relishing 'massive' top-two game with Blues

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Watch: Linfield see off Larne on penalties after extra-time drama
Date: Saturday, 30 December Kick-offs: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Radio Ulster match commentary and updates; audio, text and in-play clips on the BBC Sport website

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch says he is looking forward to locking horns with leaders Linfield in the Inver Park showdown on Saturday.

The champions sit just a point behind the Blues after both won their Boxing Day derby matches.

"It's all set for a big game and hopefully it can live up to that," said Lynch.

"It's massive for both teams but it's one to look forward to and it's why we come into this."

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In-form Larne, who have picked up 10 wins and a draw in their 11 Premiership games, beat Carrick Rangers 2-1 on Tuesday while Linfield secured a 2-0 victory over Glentoran at Windsor Park.

The sides last met earlier this month with Linfield clinching a penalty shootout win at Larne in the BetMcLean Cup quarter-final.

"Larne are flying at the minute, they're going really well - we know when we go to Inver Park the type of game it's going to be and the type of test it's going to be," said Blues boss David Healy.

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"I don't think it's going to dictate what happens at the end of the season but when you accumulate the points at the end of the season it could be important by then.

"We look forward to it and again I've been on the record about my respect for Tiernan and the football club. But certainly it's not going to be make-or-break on Saturday.

"Cliftonville are still well in the hunt and are going really well - you can't rule anyone out and it's going to be a fight to the wire.

"If we're in and around where we want to be that's all that matters to me."

Cliftonville lie four points off the top after overcoming north Belfast derby rivals Crusaders 2-1 on Boxing Day and they face another tough test on Saturday with a visit to Glentoran.

The Glens will be aiming to bounce back from their defeat by Linfield against a Reds side they edged out 1-0 when they met at the Oval in September.

"They don't get any easier - we didn't play particularly well there the last time around but we go into the game confident," said Cliftonville manager Jim Magilton.

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"They have a lot of players who can hurt you on the day. It will be a difficult task but we'll be ready, we'll be prepared and we look forward to it."

In a full Premiership programme there's also fifth-placed Crusaders hosting Carrick Rangers and Ballymena United, fresh from Tuesday's win over Coleraine, making the trip to take on Glenavon.

The Bannsiders, with just one win from their last eight league outings, welcome Loughgall to the Showgrounds while managerless Newry City, playing their first game since Gary Boyle's departure, take on Dungannon Swifts in a basement encounter at Stangmore Park.

ColerainevLoughgall
CrusadersvCarrick Rangers
Dungannon SwiftsvNewry City
GlenavonvBallymena United
GlentoranvCliftonville
LarnevLinfield
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