PREVIEW - DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP - MATCHDAY 25

With both the top two facing tough away games we could be in for another thrilling weekend of fixtures in Matchday 25 of the Danske BankPremiership.

Friday 13 January, 8pm

Carrick Rangers  vs  Ballinamallard United

This is a vital game for both sides as they look to stay out of the bottom two.  Carrick have an excellent recent record against the Mallards with six wins and two draws in their last eight meetings including a 3-1 win for Aaron Callaghan’s side in the reverse fixture at Ferney Park in November.  Despite going behind in that game just before half-time, the Carrick bounced back through a Tiarnan McNicholl double and a Martin Murray penalty to take the points, however McNicholl has returned to Cliftonville following his loan spell.  The Mallards arguably come into this game in better form with two wins in the month of December and a draw away at Dungannon on New Year’s Day.

Saturday 14 January, 3pm

Ballymena United  vs  Dungannon Swifts

This game has traditionally thrown up plenty of goals with no less than 21 in the last four meetings including a 2-2 draw in September and a 4-1 win for Dungannon in November.  Two of the Premiership’s top strikers go head to head in this one as United’s Cathair Friel will hope to fire his side to victory while Andrew Mitchell has already hit 18 goals for the Swifts this season.  David Jeffrey’s side have lost their last two Danske Bank Premiership games however, conceding four in each, while the Swifts are unbeaten in their last four in all competitions.            

Cliftonville  vs  Ards 

Goals from Daniel Hughes and Jason McGuinness gave Cliftonville a 2-0 win in October and the Reds will need another three points against Ards if they are to maintain any hope of a title challenge this season.  Ards did however grab a 2-2 draw when they met early in the season and with new boss Colin Nixon beginning to get some decent results, the visitors could just make life difficult for Cliftonville.   Ards have netted six times in their last two Premiership outings, while the Reds last match at Solitude ended in a scoreless draw with Carrick Rangers.

Coleraine  vs  Portadown   

Coleraine have taken maximum points from their last five Premiership meetings with the Ports and Bannsiders manager Oran Kearney will want to add another victory to this record when they meet at the Showgrounds. Portadown though, have improved measurably under the stewardship of new boss Niall Currie and could see this game as a chance to pick up some points, but the Bannsiders have won three on the bounce which has coincided with striker Eoin Bradley’s return to the club from Glenavon.

Glenavon  vs  Linfield       

This is always a great game and if their last encounter is anything to go by then fans could be in for a treat once again.  Linfield snatched a dramatic last minute equaliser to draw 2-2 in November but what made this game even more remarkable was that they did it with just nine men following the dismissals of Matthew Clarke and Roy Carroll in the first 10 minutes.  Glenavon have added James Gray to their ranks as they hope to move up the table while Linfield simply must win to keep the pressure on Crusaders at the top of the table.            

Glentoran  vs  Crusaders

The Glens have failed to win against the Crues in their last seven attempts with Stephen Baxter’s men winning on five occasions. However, these sides drew 2-2 in a thrilling game at Seaview in early December with Glentoran going ahead twice only to be pegged back by the title chasing Crues.  Curtis Allen grabbed a brace that day and the home fans will be asking for another performance like that against their Belfast rivals.

Danske Bank Premiership – Matchday 25

Friday 13 January, 8pm

Carrick Rangers  v  Ballinamallard United

Saturday 13 January, 3pm

Ballymena United  v  Dungannon Swifts

Cliftonville  v  Ards

Coleraine  v  Portadown

Glenavon  v  Linfield

Glentoran  v  Crusaders