Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin has urged his players to continue upping the ante as the champions look to build some title momentum.
Last week’s 3-0 victory over Linfield was a timely reminder of the Reds’ credentials as they approach a busy festive period.
Cliftonville now sit just four points off the Premiership summit, leaving Breslin’s men well within touching distance of new leaders Crusaders.
A Boxing Day derby with the Crues lies in wait, but Breslin insists his full focus is on Saturday’s showdown with Glenavon at Solitude.
“We have Glenavon next week, which is a tough one,” Breslin said.
“We lost 1-0 at Mourneview Park earlier in the season, but we missed a lot of chances. It was obviously a disappointing result and one we want to reverse.
“Glenavon are very capable, and on their day they can produce and score goals. We just need to back up this result.
“The challenge now is for the players to continue it.”
Breslin believes last week’s impressive victory over Linfield proves Cliftonville still possess the quality and character which saw them romp to the title last season.
Defeat would have left them languising 10 points off the lead.
But now they are firmly in title reckoning as they look to successfully defend the Gibson Cup.
“We knew the way the league table was, and that we couldn’t really afford to lose last week,” Breslin added.
“We just said to the players to go out and fight for their title. Had we lost, we would have gone 10 points behind which would have made life difficult.
“But the lads answered any questions in spades. There was a determination about us and we restricted Linfield to very little. And they are a team who have been on a fantastic run.
“So we proved to ourselves that those performances are in us.
“That was the same back four that conceded six goals in our last two games – and they were soft goals – and last week they keep a clean sheet.
“So credit to them.”