Glenn Ferguson believes strike duo Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce hold the key to Cliftonville’s title defence this season.
The Reds drew to within two points of Premiership leaders Linfield with Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Blues.
The champions could go top on Tuesday night if they can claim victory over Ferguson’s Ballymena United at the Showgrounds (7.45pm).
It is a major incentive for Tommy Breslin’s Reds as they head to Warden Street.
Ferguson insists he has his own distractions to concern him - as he looks to secure a top six spot for the Sky Blues - but he believes the influence of Gormley and Boyce will have a big say in the destination of the Gibson Cup.
“They’re a genuine threat,” Ferguson said.
“They helped fire Cliftonville to the title last year and they are on a similar vein of form this season.
“Goals win games, and victories win titles.
“So they will have a big say in where the title goes this season.”
Gormley and Boyce have scored an incredible 114 goals between them over the past two seasons.
Their return of 66 last season saw the Reds claim their first title in 15 years.
“Their strength is they score goals - pure and simple,” Ferguson added.
“Boyce is the better player technically. He is one of the best players in the league.
“Gormley is more direct and has pace, and he has a real eye for goal. Strikers are judged on goals, and those two deliver.”
Ferguson is hoping Ballymena can inflict a dent in Cliftonville’s title drive tonight, and with it boost their own top six credentials.
“We want to try and get a positive result. Cliftonville will be looking to go top, but hopefully we can scupper their plans,” he added.
“I don’t care about the title race, I am just focused on Ballymena United. So we will be out to get the three points on Tuesday and try and boost our top six prospects.
“There are still a lot of points to play for, and we need to pick up as many as we can.”
Ballymena are without skipper Allan Jenkins and influential midfielder David Cushley who are both suspended for tonight’s game.