EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF PREVIEW

Cliftonville host Glentoran in the Europa League Playoff final at Solitude this evening (kick-off: 5.30pm).

The two famous Belfast sides go head to head with the lucrative bonus of the riches of European football at stake for the winner.

It’s been the third time in the four years of the Europa League Playoffs have been contested by the Reds and the Glens at Solitude and on both of the previous occasion the game has ended in a 3-2 win for Cliftonville.

Both managers were not in the dugout during last season’s playoff final, but Mick McDermott (Glentoran) and Paddy McLaughlin (Cliftonville) have a chance to make a huge impact in their first seasons at their respective clubs by potentially qualifying for Europe.

Recent form

Cliftonville finished fifth in the Danske Bank Premiership table this season, and sealed their place in today’s final with a remarkable 5-3 win against Coleraine, after being 3-1 down their stoppage time equaliser from the penalty spot took the game to extra time in what proved to be Rodney McAree’s final game in charge of the Bannsiders.

Mick McDermott’s arrival at the Oval has sparked a mini-revival at Glentoran as they are unbeaten in his six games in charge since the start of April. They sealed the seventh placed spot in the bottom half group in the table and took that form into an impressive 4-2 win against Glenavon at Mourneview Park in Tuesday night’s semi-final.

Meetings this season

The three league meetings between the sides this season have all ended in wins for Cliftonville, dating back to the opening day of the season, with the most recent win occurring at the end of March – however some comfort for the Glens will be that all the losses have only come by the odd goal.

We have to go back to February 2018 for the last Glentoran win in this fixture, when Curtis Allen’s goal separated the sides in a Premiership encounter with Ronnie McFall as manager.

Match officials

Andrew Davey is the man in the middle at Solitude this evening, with Stephen Bell and Paul Robinson as assistant referees. Evan Boyce will be the fourth official.

Live Coverage

The match will be broadcast live on BBC Two NI from 5.20pm this evening, hosted by Stephen Watson with Thomas Kane on commentary, there will also be live radio coverage on BBC Radio Ulster.

Tags:  Cliftonville  Glentoran