Friday, 09 March 2018
It’s Danske Day in the Danske Bank Premiership this weekend as we celebrate all that is good about local football with six cracking fixtures on your doorstep!
If you’re going to a game be sure to tag your photos on social media with #DanskeDay to be in with a change of winning some great prizes.
Ballinamallard United v Ards (venue: Ferney Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Each match of Ballinamallard’s remaining campaign only escalates in importance as the gap between the bottom of the table and safety has widened to seven points. The visit of Ards to Fermanagh has been described by manager Gavin Dykes as a ‘must win’ for the Mallards, who lost 2-0 to Dungannon Swifts two weeks ago in their last outing.
Colin Nixon’s Ards have endured an inconsistent season but are looking comfortable from the underlying threat of relegation themselves – their 1-0 win against Ballymena United ten days ago pulled them 13 points away from the bottom two and go into the game with two wins from the previous two encounters between the sides this season.
Ballymena United v Coleraine (venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
Derby day at the Ballymena Showgrounds sees the Coleraine title challenge arrive needing nothing but a win will do against a Braid side that hasn’t lost at home in the Danske Bank
Premiership since the same fixture back in September. David Jeffrey’s Sky Blues put the League Cup final hangover behind them finally with a win away to Dungannon Swifts in midweek which has given renewed hope of a top six finish despite needing to win their two games in hand over Glentoran to reduce the gap, which currently stands at five points.
Coleraine and Oran Kearney are currently five points behind Crusaders with only eight games remaining and still have only suffered one defeat all season. Last time out two weeks ago, they defeated Warrenpoint Town by a single
Cliftonville v Crusaders (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)
The North Belfast derby takes top billing as Crusaders return to Solitude, looking for revenge for their recent Irish Cup humiliation and with three points in their sights to take one step closer to the Danske Bank Premiership title.
Out of form Cliftonville have fallen to fifth in recent weeks with three defeats in their last four league games since the Irish Cup victory. Crusaders will go into this game having also defeated their near neighbours three times without reply in the other meetings between the sides.
The Crusaders juggernaut shows no signs of stopping, despite disappointment in the cup competitions – they remain unbeaten in the Danske Bank Premiership since October and have 13 wins from their last 14 games as they current sit at the head of the table.
Glenavon v Glentoran (venue: Mourneview Park; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s been a terrible week for Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon as they followed the disappointment of their Irish Cup exit to Loughgall with a 6-1 mauling from Crusaders on Tuesday night. With their lingering title hopes now gone, it’s a case of consolidating third place for the Lurgan Blues. They have already defeated Glentoran back in November, with an early season 2-2 also played in August between the sides.
In the opposite dugout Ronnie McFall returns to Glenavon, where he had many titanic battles as manager of their derby rivals, Portadown over the years. His appointment following the dismissal of Gary Haveron has revitalised the faltering East Belfast club with two wins (against Cliftonville and Warrenpoint Town) from his opening two games. Glentoran go into this game in the driving seat for a top six finish, but will need to take points from their final three games to fend off the threat of Ballymena United.
Linfield v Carrick Rangers (venue: Windsor Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Blues boss David Healy will have had ten days to reflect on a dismal 2-0 defeat to Glenavon at Windsor Park, as the reigning champions continue to struggle for consistency as they continue to lose their grip on the Gibson Cup. There will be some confidence granted from the two wins and two clean sheets in games against Carrick Rangers to date this season for the fourth placed Belfast club.
Carrick Rangers chalked up a huge win against Dungannon Swifts on the same evening as Linfield’s defeat, which has taken them a full seven points away from bottom placed Ballinamallard United and now even allowing the Carrick faithful to look above them to next placed Warrenpoint Town and their four point advantage over the East Antrim club. Rangers’ boss David McAlinden and Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew are guests on this week’s BetMcLean Football Show with Cool FM.
Warrenpoint Town v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Q Radio Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
Interim manager Stephen McDonnell takes charge of Warrenpoint Town for the first time since the departure of Matthew Tipton to Portadown last week and the pressure is on to pick up enough points to stave off the threat of relegation back to the Championship after only one season.
For Rodney McAree back-to-back defeats against Carrick Rangers and Ballymena United have ended any hopes of a top six finish for the League Cup winners but they have already three wins against the border side in the bank this season in all competitions.