Jordan Owens returns for Crusaders to face Linfield on Saturday afternoon in the Danske Bank Premiership (c) Presseye

DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP: MATCHDAY 3 PREVIEW

The big games keep coming in the Danske Bank Premiership this weekend starting tonight at the Newry Showgrounds, we look ahead to all the fixtures!

Friday 17 August 2018

Newry City v Glenavon (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 7.45pm)

The action kicks off tonight as it’s another Friday night under the lights for Newry City, as top-flight football returned to the Newry Showgrounds last week with Darren Mullen’s newly promoted side earning a well-deserved three points against Dungannon Swifts – their first of the new season.

Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon are the visitors to South Down for the second time in a week following their 4-2 win against Warrenpoint Town last Saturday. New signing Ben Doherty could feature after joining from Derry City on loan during the week, whilst teenager Robbie Norton has made the switch to Warrenpoint on loan.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Ards v Ballymena United (venue: Clandeboye Park; kick-off: 3pm)

David Jeffrey takes his in-form Ballymena United side to Clandeboye Park on Saturday and will be keen on preserving their unbeaten start to the Danske Bank Premiership. Their impressive performance on the road at Seaview last week against the Champions merited a point, but despite a host of new signings early signs have been positive – with Ryan Mayse getting off the mark last Saturday.

Ards on the other hand remain without a point after defeats to both Crusaders and Glentoran last week. Manager Colin Nixon has also been dealt a big blow with forward Sean Noble being ruled out long term following a cruciate ligament injury.

Crusaders v Linfield (venue: Seaview; kick-off: 3pm)

The game of the day is at Seaview as Crusaders face off against cross city rivals Linfield in a blockbuster meeting of two of the potential title challengers. Stephen Baxter’s Crues will enjoy their third successive home Premiership game but will need to improve after dropping points to Ballymena United last Saturday. They will be boosted by the welcome return of Jordan Owens early from injury as a second half substitute against the Sky Blues.

David Healy’s Linfield look refreshed after a summer of transfer movement with six points from six in their opening two games. Wins against Glenavon and Institute coupled with goals in each from new signings Joel Cooper and Daniel Kearns have renewed optimism at Windsor Park after a difficult season last time out, they remain only of only two sides to have claimed maximum points to date.

Dungannon Swifts v Cliftonville (venue: Stangmore Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Rodney McAree’s Swifts need to start picking up points after two defeats in their opening games to Ballymena United and Newry City, they will not get it easy against a Cliftonville side who will be eager to bounce back from their last minute defeat to Coleraine at Solitude last weekend. The Reds will still be without striker Rory Donnelly, as the active portion of his suspension was upheld by the Irish FA’s Appeals Committee during the week.

Glentoran v Coleraine (venue: The Oval; kick-off: 3pm)

The Oval is where Oran Kearney’s side travel in the quest to maintain their 100% start to the Danske Bank Premiership campaign. The Bannsiders had super-sub Aaron Burns to thank as his two goals secured a valuable away victory against Cliftonville last weekend.

Glentoran got their first points on the board last week against Ards, thanks to a 2-0 win with goals from John McGuigan and Curtis Allen. Ronnie McFall has also continued to add to his panel ahead of the transfer window closing at the end of the month, with the arrival of Dundalk striker Sam Byrne this week.

Institute v Warrenpoint Town (venue: Brandywell; kick-off: 3pm)

It’s Institute second game of the season at the Brandywell with Warrenpoint Town as the visitors to the North West. Paddy McLaughlin’s ‘Stute started with an opening day win but were outclassed last weekend against Linfield on the road. Warrenpoint Town are still without a point after the unenviable record of two defeats from their opening two games, this game will be vitally important in the long run for either team’s hopes of staying in the Danske Bank Premiership.