Irish Cup sixth round: Stephen Baxter seeks Crues response against Reds

Cliftonville and Crusaders will battle for a place in the Irish Cup quarter-finals
Cliftonville and Crusaders will battle for a place in the Irish Cup quarter-finals

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter hopes his side can bounce back from their League Cup semi-final defeat when they face Cliftonville in the Irish Cup.

The game at Solitude looks the pick of Saturday's sixth-round ties, after a week when the Crues' 23-game unbeaten run came to an end against Dungannon.

"Cliftonville will come at us with everything so we have to pick ourselves up and respond to that," said Baxter.

"They haven't beaten us for a while so they'll want to put one over on us."

Reds boss Barry Gray is expecting a tough encounter against "one of the most in-form teams in the league".

"The Irish Cup is massive for us this season - if we play like we did in the first half of Monday's 1-1 draw with Glenavon then we have a chance. If we play like we did in the second half we will struggle," said Gray.

Holders Linfield face in-form Newry City

Holders Linfield entertain a Newry City side who have worked their way up to third in the Championship and Blues manager David Healy says he is "fully aware of the form that they are in and the confidence they will have".

"I watched them play Dergview and we've done our homework but they'll enjoy coming to Windsor Park and will fancy their chances of causing an upset," said Healy, with the competition representing his club's only chance of securing silverware this campaign.

"The players are aware of how important the Irish Cup is to this club but if we are bang on it hopefully we can put ourselves in the quarter-finals."

Last season's runners-up Coleraine host north west rivals Institute, with Bannsiders manager Oran Kearney warning of the danger of "a potential banana skin" against their near neighbours and Championship leaders.

"They are in a winning habit and are having a good season, playing fantastically well. We know we will have to be right up for it and hit the same levels as recent months if we are to progress," argued Kearney.

Ballymena United are at home to Ballinamallard United in one of three all-Premiership ties, Gavin Dykes' Fermanagh side having been boosted by clinching just a second league win of the season against Cliftonville last weekend.

"I don't fear going to Ballymena with the squad we have now. They are a good side who are going well so we have nothing to lose," commented Dykes, who will face the Braidmen in a Premiership game at the same venue a week later.

Glenavon meet Dungannon in derby

Dungannon's David Armstrong and Bobby Burns of Glenavon vie for possession during the 1-1 league draw between the sides in September
Dungannon's David Armstrong and Bobby Burns of Glenavon vie for possession during the 1-1 league draw between the sides in September

Glenavon play Dungannon Swifts in another derby clash at Mourneview Park, with Swifts manager Rodney McAree believing his side "have the capabilities of going and getting a result" after their midweek extra-time victory over Crusaders.

"It will be difficult. You don't get any easy games against Dungannon - they have proved very difficult opposition for us over the years and anything can happen on a cup day," observed Lurgan Blues manager Gary Hamilton.

"I just hope we can rise to the occasion and get a wee bit of the rub of the green when we need it.

"I've said to the boys that you only get a limited number of opportunities to win trophies during your career and this is a chance to get into another round and hopefully go all the way.

"That's what we are aiming for and you have to be bang on it from the start in these games. We need to be on top of our game as Dungannon are capable of beating any team in the top flight on their day."

Glentoran go to Ballyclare Comrades with the east Belfast club's manager Gary Haveron explaining that he will field a full-strength side in the knowledge of the potential financial rewards which flow from possible qualification for European football by the route of winning the Irish Cup.

Ards manager Colin Nixon believes his team will be up against a "fired-up" Loughgall outfit who will be "looking to spring a surprise" at their Lakeview Park ground.

Larne play Premier Intermediate leaders Dundela in the day's other fixture at Inver Park.

Tennent's Irish Cup fifth round - Saturday 3 February - 15:00 GMT kick-offs
LinfieldvNewry City
Ballyclare ComradesvGlentoran
Ballymena UtdvBallinamallard Utd
GlenavonvDungannon Swifts
Live coverage on Radio Ulster and the BBC Sport website