Title race really is too close to call this season

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin
Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin

With seven games to go in this season’s Danske Bank Premiership title race, the pressure couldn’t be greater on the two main protagonists.

Champions Cliftonville remain two points behind Linfield following Saturday’s round of games.

It was a tale of two victories at the weekend, with the Reds romping to a 5-0 success over Ballinamallard United, while the Blues gritted their title teeth with a spirited 2-1 win over Portadown.

Expectation levels are rising at the two Belfast clubs – both equally determined to get their hands on the Gibson Cup.

Cliftonville’s Class of 2013/14 stand on the cusp of history, aiming to become the first Reds side to ever retain the title.

Linfield have their own focus, namely sending outoing boss David Jeffrey out on a high with the trophy he craves the most.

It is a blockbuster script punctuated by some romantic caveats that will hold us all in thrall from now to the end of the league season on April 26

There will plenty more twists and turns before that date, not least on Saturday. Match 29.

That is when Linfield are due to host Cliftonville at Windsor Park in the first of five post-split fixtures.

The colossal showdown is already being touted as a potential title decider.

The result may not confirm the destination of the Gibson Cup, but it could have a significant bearing on where the trophy finally rests.

If Cliftonville are to retain the championship, they will have to do it the hard way.

Tommy Breslin’s side are facing up to the prospect of five consecutive Premiership fixtures all away from home – starting with Saturday’s trip to Warrenpoint Town.

Linfield have home advantage against Dungannon Swifts this weekend before travelling to Coleraine ahead of the split.

After that will come the March 29 showdown between the pair at Windsor.

When asked for his views on the title race on Saturday, Ballinamallard boss Whitey Anderson – whose side were on the receiving end at Solitude – wasn’t ready to commit to any confident forecasts.

“You are not going to get a prediction from me on that,” Whitey smiled.

“I really don’t know how it is going to pan out. It will go down to the wire.”

It was a diplomatic response, and a fence I am going to sit on for the time being.