Action from Glenavon v Coleraine earlier this season in the Danske Bank Premiership ©INPHO/Philip McGowan
Friday, 09 February 2018
There are four Danske Bank Premiership fixtures this Saturday with plenty to play for at both ends of the table!
Ards v Carrick Rangers (venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
In the aftermath of an Irish Cup exit to Loughgall, Colin Nixon is without the trio Kyle Cherry, Michael Ruddy and Ross Clarke who were all sent off last Saturday at Lakeview Park. The County Down side have won both of the previous fixtures between the sides this season 1-0 and could go within a point of eighth placed Dungannon Swifts with a win at the Bangor Fuels Arena.
For David McAlinden’s Carrick Rangers, picking up points particularly against sides in the bottom six is an absolute must. The East Antrim side’s dismal season continued with another defeat on Tuesday evening against Crusaders, maintaining their unwanted 100% loss record in 2018 and stretching their winless run to a staggering 17 games! The revival of Ballinamallard United in recent weeks will do little to settle the nerves at Carrick either.
Coleraine v Glenavon (venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s second v third at the Coleraine Showgrounds, with neither side in a position where they can afford any slip ups in such a tightly contested Danske Bank Premiership campaign. Both sides also progressed comfortably to the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup last Saturday as their attentions turn back to the league in which has seen a win for Coleraine and a draw in the two meetings between the sides this year.
Gary Hamilton marked a good week at Mourneview Park with a team of fringe players lifting the Mid-Ulster Cup with a win against Newry City on Tuesday night. In the other dugout, it may be a week too soon for Oran Kearney to utilise new signing Aaron Burns, as his side look to keep chase with Crusaders who remain three points ahead of the one time league leaders.
Crusaders v Glentoran (venue: Seaview; kick-off: 3pm)
There was a tangible relief for fans of the Crues when Darren Murray’s debut double put to bed a terrible week for his club which seen Crusaders exit both the Irish Cup and League Cup after being quietly tipped contest for a potential ‘clean sweep’ of all domestic trophies. That 3-0 win over Carrick Rangers took Crusaders back to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership and a reminder that, it remains the core focus after the heartbreak of losing the title to rivals Linfield last season.
Cross-city opponents Glentoran had a positive week as they secured wins against Ballyclare Comrades (Irish Cup) and Ballinamallard United (Premiership) which has taken Gary Haveron’s team back within one point of the top six and Ballymena United. Buoyed by the arrivals of Peter McMahon and Alex O’Hanlon, Glentoran could move back into the top half of the table with a win against Baxter’s men – something which they haven’t managed to date this season.
Linfield v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Windsor Park; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s the first of two visits to Windsor Park for Dungannon Swifts in the next seven days, as they could be forgiven for having one eye on the BetMcLean League Cup final next weekend. Rodney McAree’s Swifts will be looking to bounce back from their Irish Cup exit with a result against the reigning League champions
David Healy’s Linfield are showing signs of turning a corner after a dismal festive period as following their comeback against Coleraine at the Showgrounds to earn a draw, they have followed that up with back-to-back wins against Newry City (Irish Cup) and Warrenpoint Town (Premiership).