Action from Newry City v Coleraine this season (c) Presseye

DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP: MATCHDAY 32 PREVIEW

Friday night football, a North Belfast derby and the title race continues - it's another exciting weekend of Danske Bank Premiership action to look forward to!

Friday 15 March 2019

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

Bottom placed Newry City kick off the weekend’s action at home to sixth placed Coleraine. Darren Mullen’s side currently are a point behind relegation rivals Ards to avoid the drop. They surrendered their lead against Dungannaon Swifts last Saturday, losing 2-1 after two late goals.

Rodney McAree must pick his side up from their disappointing 4-0 defeat to Ballymena United last Saturday, they go into the game without defender Gareth McConaghie who serves his automatic one match suspension. The Bannsiders are currently sixth in the table but have yet to defeat Newry City in their two previous meetings this season, including live on BBC back in November when Mark McCabe grabbed the winner.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Ards v Warrenpoint Town (venue: Clandeboye Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Warren Feeney’s impact as Ards manager has been instant as they followed up the win against Newry two weeks ago, with a well earned point away to Glentoran which leaves the County Down side in eleventh place – a point above their relegation rivals. They will however be without key defender Kym Nelson following his red card last Saturday against his former club.

Despite their Irish Cup heroics – Warrenpoint Town are without a league win since January and have dropped down to tenth place in the table with hopes of a seventh place finish for the playoffs fading quickly. Their game against Crusaders was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch last week so they go into this game having beaten Ards already once this season (1-0 back in October) whilst drawing the last meeting 1-1 in December.

Ballymena United v Glentoran (venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

Whilst David Jeffrey is quick to play down his club’s title hopes, the Sky Blues came back into the mix last Saturday as they took advantage of Linfield’s defeat at Mourneview Park by defeating Coleraine comfortably at the Ballycastle Road. In the two previous meetings this season Ballymena United defeated Glentoran twice in 10 days.

Glentoran are without the suspended William Garrett and Darren Murray for this fixture as they must bounce back from their draw at relegation threatened Ards if they want to hold out hopes of making the final Europa League playoff place, they currently trail Dungannon Swifts by a point.

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

The North Belfast derby takes place at Seaview and the Crues have the opportunity to push on from their midweek County Antrim Shield triumph against Linfield. Despite the Champions’ eight point deficit on second placed Ballymena United, manager Stephen Baxter will be keen to ensure they keep focused on picking up as many points as possible in the hope of breaking into the title race for the run-in, but they will have to do it without influential midfielder Declan Caddell who is suspended.

Paddy McLaughlin has enjoyed a decent start as Reds boss with four wins from his first five games as the fifth placed Reds have the opportunity to close the gap on their derby rivals potentially to three points with a win tomorrow. The two sides have met three times in all competitions already this season and Crusaders have come out on top on all three occasions against then Barry Gray’s Reds – including a 5-1 rout on Boxing Day.

Glenavon v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Mourneview Park; kick-off: 3pm)

It was a morale boosting win at home for Glenavon last Friday night in front of the live television cameras, as they defeated top of the table Linfield by two goals without reply. It marked a first home league win for the Lurgan Blues since the start of February. The two sides have met four times already in all competitions this season – the latest of which was the Swifts’ 1-0 win in the Irish Cup sixth round last month.

Kris Lindsay returns to his former club on Saturday, looking to get one over on his former mentor Gary Hamilton once again. Dungannon fought back against Newry City last weekend to move into seventh place in the table as they currently lead the way for a the final Europa League playoff place with seven games left to play.

Linfield v Institute (venue: Windsor Park; kick-off: 3pm)

It’s been a tough week for Linfield manager David Healy – he watched his side lose two big games to Glenavon (league) and Crusaders (County Antrim Shield) and now must bounce back to maintain their six point lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership over Ballymena United. Linfield will be without the suspended Kirk Millar for Saturday’s game.

Kevin Doherty remains in temporary charge of Institute for the trip to Windsor Park which may prove daunting for the North West side as they have suffered three defeats in their three previous meetings this season against the Blues – conceding twelve goals in total! ‘Stute were narrowly beaten by Cliftonville last weekend, who were managed by former boss Paddy McLaughlin.

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