JBE CUP FINAL: Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle accepts favourites tag ahead of Ards showdown

Cliftonville's Conor Devlin, Ryan Catney and manager Geard lyttle along with Ards players James Cully,'Ross Arthurs and manager Niall Currie ahead of the JBE League Cup Final
Cliftonville's Conor Devlin, Ryan Catney and manager Geard lyttle along with Ards players James Cully,'Ross Arthurs and manager Niall Currie ahead of the JBE League Cup Final

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle admits the odds are loaded heavily in his team’s favour ahead of Saturday’s JBE League Cup final against Ards - but he wouldn’t have it any other way (5.30pm).

The Reds know what is required to win this trophy. It has taken up residence at Solitude for the past three years.

Lyttle’s boys know they have the chance to carve their name into the history books by becoming the first team to make it four in a row.

Championship One side Ards must also contend with the fact that Cliftonville will have home advantage.

“To be honest, I would have preferred a neutral venue,” admitted Lyttle, who will be looking for his first piece of silverware since moving into the Reds hot-seat.

“It’s a final and you like to get away from you home surroundings.

“You can call me old fashioned, but I would have liked the final to be played elsewhere. But it was out of our hands.

“People will say we have an advantage, but it also could be a disadvantage. There is now probably a bit of added pressure on us because we are at home.

“Yes, we have a good record at Solitude, but it’s a one-off cup final. We’ll play down all the hype and focus on what we have to do to win the game.”

Lyttle has left nothing to chance and has done his homework on Ards.

He added: “It was a bit difficult trying to pinpoint games due to matches being called off, but we’ve had them watched on a few occasions.

“We’ll be taking them seriously. There will be no question of disrespecting them in any shape or form.

“We’ll be treating them the same as we treat Linfield or Crusaders.

“Let’s remember, Ards are potentially a Premiership team. They have been sitting top of the Championship One all season. They have players who have featured in this league before.”

Ards manager Niall Currie, who was unhappy at the choice of venue, insists his side will not be travelling to Solitude just to make up the numbers.

“We want to give it a go,” he said.

“We know they will probably have the ball more than us but we have to stay in the game. We have players who can hurt them and I think we’ve shown we can give anyone a game.

“If the boys believe in themselves, work hard and be brave, they can compete.”