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05 Aug 2022
© Stephen Hamilton/PressEye Stephen Fallon in action with Johnny McMurray

Linfield and Crusaders raise the curtain on the new season when they go head-to-head in the White Ribbon NI Charity Shield on Saturday at Windsor Park, kick-off 3pm.

As per tradition, the Blues earned their place in the showpiece occasion after clinching a world record setting 56th league title while Crusaders booked their spot after a dramatic Irish Cup final victory at the beginning of May.

The Shield makes a return to the domestic calendar after a five year gap. Linfield are the holders after having defeated Coleraine in the 2017 edition, while the Crues ended up on the losing side in the two years prior to that.

Both sides have been heavily involved in European action over the past few weeks.

Indeed, Linfield took to the pitch as recently as Thursday evening when they went down 2-0 to Swiss champions FC Zurich in the Europa League having already faced Bodo/Glimt and The New Saints in the Champions League.

Crusaders, for their part, got past Bruno's Magpies from Gibraltar before exiting the Conference League at the hands of FC Basel.

It has been a relatively quiet transfer window thus far for both camps. Stephen Baxter's side have brought in only Dean Ebbe (TNS) and Rory McKeown, most recently with New Zealand outfit Wellington Olympic.

For Linfield Joel Cooper returned to the club from Oxford United while Robbie McDaid made the switch from Glentoran and Daniel Finlayson arrived on loan from St. Mirren. Additionally Chris McKee made his move from Rangers permanent on top of Eetu Vertainen's return loan from St. Johnstone.

Last season Linfield won three out of the four meetings between the sides. Christy Manzinga bagged a double in the 2-0 win back in August before the Crues gained revenge in the return midway through November thanks to strikes from Paul Heatley and Ben Kennedy.

Linfield won again in March, 3-2, with goals from McKee, Chris Shields and a stoppage time Ethan Devine strike before collecting a third victory on Easter Tuesday. Jimmy Callacher opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, Jordan Forsythe levelled moments from the break but Devine once again bagged the winner with 20 minutes remaining.

Christopher Morrison takes charge of tomorrow's game, assisted by Adam Jeffrey and Stephen Bell, while Lee Tavinder has been named as fourth official.

Tickets are still available. Priced at £10 and £5 they can be purchased by clicking here.