Friday, 06 April 2018
Following Easter Tuesday there is still no let up in the Danske Bank Premiership with the top and the bottom of the league hanging in the balance and now the race for third place is well and truly on!
Ards v Glentoran (venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
Ronnie McFall’s Glentoran make the short trip to North Down to take on Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena this Saturday keen to cement their seventh place position in the table and entry into the Europa League playoffs in May.
Ards moved into eighth place in the Danske Bank Premiership table midweek after a fine victory over in-form Warrenpoint Town and Colin Nixon will be hoping for a repeat of the last meeting between the sides back in February which ended in a 2-1 win against his former employers.
Ballinamallard United v Warrenpoint Town (venue: Ferney Park; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s as you were for the Mallards after their crucial relegation six pointer against Carrick Rangers fell foul of the weather on Easter Tuesday. Harry McConkey’s Mallards are still intent on closing the gap on Carrick Rangers but they will need a bit of luck along the way to go with getting their own results right.
Despite defeat to Ards on Easter Tuesday, Stephen McDonnell’s Warrenpoint side are almost mathematically safe from a relegation playoff and they go into this game unbeaten against the Mallards in the three Danske Bank Premiership games this season with two wins and a draw under previous manager Matthew Tipton.
Coleraine v Cliftonville (venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; kick-off 3pm)
Jamie McGonigle’s penalty briefly put the Bannsiders in pole position in the Premiership title race on Monday but after their 1-1 draw with Crusaders at Seaview, they now need to pick up maximum points from the final four games and hope that the Crues lose one of theirs. Coleraine have won twice and drawn once against the North Belfast side so far this season.
Rejuvenated Cliftonville have hit form at the right time after following up their Irish Cup semi-final victory over Loughgall with a comfortable 3-0 victory away to Ballymena United during the week. The race for third place is definitely back on with two points separating three sides going into this dress rehearsal for the Irish Cup final.
Crusaders v Glenavon (venue: Seaview; kick-off 3pm)
Advantage Crusaders in the title race as welcome Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon to Seaview this weekend. They maintain a two point lead and superior goal difference over Coleraine but will be determined not to repeat a similar scenario to last season when their slip up to Ballymena United gifted rivals Linfield the Gibson Cup advantage.
Glenavon are drastically out of form at the wrong time of the season, having now gone six games without a win dating back to the end of February, and defeat to Linfield on Tuesday night has left the battle for third place and possible Europa League qualification up for grabs when at a time it seemed wrapped up for the once title-challenging Lurgan Blues.
Dungannon Swifts v Carrick Rangers (venue: Stangmore Park; kick-off 3pm)
Both these teams missed out on an Easter Tuesday game with Carrick Rangers desperate for points and Dungannon keen to sign off on an indifferent Premiership season, albeit with the BetMcLean League Cup nestled safely in the trophy cabinet.
Carrick Rangers and Davy McAlinden will go into this game knowing that a win could take them a full eight points clear of Ballinamallard United, should results go their way. They have every reason to be confident going into this game as two of their four Premiership wins this season have come against Rodney McAree’s side.
Linfield v Ballymena United (venue: Windsor Park; kick-off 3pm)
Linfield’s pulsating late victory over Glenavon has given some late impetuous to a stuttering campaign as the race for third place opens up. David Healy will be looking to capitalise against Ballymena United as they look to salvage the season with a potential place in Europe or at least pole position for the playoffs.
The Sky Blues showed little signs of the form that gave them the late surge into the top half of the table against Cliftonville in midweek and will go into this game without Cathair Friel who was sent off against the Reds. Ballymena confirmed that they will finish the league season in sixth place but there has been little between the two sides this season, with a win each and a draw in the past three Premiership encounters.