PREVIEW: CRUSADERS v CLIFTONVILLE (LIVE ON BBC TWO NI)

Danske Bank Premiership football will be broadcast on terrestrial television for the first time in tonight’s landmark clash between Crusaders and Cliftonville on BBC Two NI (kick-off: 7.45pm).

The defending Premiership champions, Crusaders, may have endured an indifferent start to the season but local bragging rights and a hugely important three points are at stake against their near neighbours Cliftonville in the first North Belfast derby of the season.

All eyes will be on Joe Gormley tonight as Cliftonville’s talisman striker is only one goal away from breaking the long standing record goalscoring record at the club, held by Kevin McGarry. Gormley’s double against Ards took him level with the legendary Reds’ forward on 170 goals.

Meetings last season

The two sides met six times in all competitions last season, with Crusaders shading the encounters, with three wins to Cliftonville’s two. The Reds defeated Stephen Baxter’s side in two of the last three meetings including in the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup back in March. The last meetings between the sides was a 1-1 draw back in April, which set the Crues en route to a third title in four seasons.

Current season form

Neither team has hit the high standards expected from their managers to date this season, but with both clubs picking up morale boosting wins last Saturday – it could be the springboard for a return up the table.

The Crues currently sit sixth in the table – having suffered four defeats in their opening nine games, which was more than the Seaview side lost in the entirety of last season. Depsite boasting the Premiership’s leading scorer, the Reds have lost to South Down duo Newry City and Warrenpoint Town in September, but go into the game off the back of three wins in succession.

Officials

The man in the middle tonight will be Ian McNabb, assisted by Stephen Donaldson and Kristian Hanna with Lee Tavinder as fourth official.

Admission

Admission for Crusaders fans: Home supporters can pay at the turnstile. Entry to the Main Stand from turnstiles 1 & 2 at Creations and into the Harry Corry Stand and terracing through turnstiles 5&6 at the bottom of St. Vincent Street Admission for Cliftonville fans: Ticket sales have now closed for visiting supporters as of Thursday 4 October, there will be no cash turnstile for Cliftonville supporters.

Coverage

Match coverage hosted by Stephen Watson starts on BBC Two Northern Ireland from 7.30pm. The match is also available from the BBC Sport Website, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport App.

Tags:  Coleraine  Newry City