PREVIEW - DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP - MATCHDAY 31

Things are getting tight at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with Linfield cutting Crusaders' lead to seven points as we head into a full weekend of fixtures.

Friday 10th March

Ards vs Ballinamallard United (8:00pm)

These sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw back in December with the Mallards’ Adam Lecky bagging a hat-trick.  All six goals came in a 20 minute period during the second half, and although it was exciting for the fans you can rest assured both Colin Nixon and Gavin Dykes will want to keep their defences a bit tighter this time around.

Saturday 11th March (3pm)

Ballymena United vs Portadown

Ballymena were a team on a high after following up their League Cup Final success with a win away at Ferney Park in their last Premiership game.  However, they were brought down to earth with a bump in the Irish Cup last Saturday after being on the end of a 4-0 thumping by rivals Coleraine.  Portadown were also playing well despite being rooted to the foot of the table, with two magnificent draws with Linfield and Crusaders in their last two Premiership games, but they too were dumped out of the Cup going down 5-0 to Glenavon. 

Coleraine vs Glentoran 

The Bannsiders have won both meeting this season with a 1-0 win at the Oval coming after a resounding 4-1 victory at the Showgrounds. Oran Kearney’s side have won nine of their last 10 including that 4-0 win away to Ballymena in the Irish Cup, while Glentoran have won just twice in 15 games.  Despite the Glens poor run of form, they still harbour hopes of finishing in a Europa League play-off spot so will not want to lose this game.

Crusaders vs Carrick Rangers

The champions and leaders Crusaders dropped two points in a shock draw with Portadown in their last Premiership outing, and lost in the Irish Cup last Saturday.  Stephen Baxter will be demanding his players get back on track when Carrick Rangers make the short trip to Seaview this weekend.  Paul Heatley bagged all three goals in a 3-1 win for the Crues in this fixture in October, but Aaron Callaghan’s side are battling for points near the foot of the table and will be determined to maintain the gap on Portadown below them.

Glenavon vs Dungannon Swifts

Inconsistency is a word that could describe these two sides as they prepare to meet at Mourneview Park.  Gary Hamilton’s side remarkably haven’t won two Premiership games in a row all season but do come into this game unbeaten in five in all competitions including that tremendous 5-0 thumping of Portadown in the Irish Cup.  The Swifts have to go back to early December to find two victories in a row and have taken just one point in their last three league games.  The last time these sides met in December, it was Glenavon-bound striker Andrew Mitchell who bagged an 89th minute winner for Dungannon Swifts. 

Monday 13 March (745pm)

Linfield  v  Cliftonville

The Blues come into this game on the back of nine wins and a draw in their last 10 in all competitions while the Reds have won just two of their last 11.  However, this is one of those games that you can throw the formbook out the window. Anything can happen.  David Healy’s side might only have lost just three league games this campaign but two of these defeats are at the hands of Cliftonville, and this is something that Gerard Lyttle will not need to remind his players of.  Cliftonville were winless throughout February and rather than looking above them in the table they are now in danger of being caught by Coleraine and Ballymena who sit just behind them.

 

Friday 10 March (8pm)

Ards  v  Ballinamallard United

 

Saturday 11 March (3pm)

Ballymena United  v  Portadown

Coleraine  v  Glentoran

Crusaders  v  Carrick Rangers

Glenavon  v  Dungannon Swifts

 

Monday 13 March (745pm)

Linfield  v  Cliftonville