Action from Crusaders v Coleraine last month in the Danske Bank Premiership (c) Presseye


The Danske Bank Premiership’s top two sides meet at Seaview as we look ahead to another super Saturday of action across the five games.

Carrick Rangers v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Belfast Loughshore Arena; kick-off: 3pm)

Niall Currie’s Carrick Rangers will be looking to capitalise on home advantage as they aim to get back to winning ways after four defeats on the bounce that has left the East Antrim men hovering dangerously over the relegation zone. Their latest defeat came at The Oval last Saturday, losing 3-1 to Glentoran.

The Swifts also come into this game following back-to-back defeats to Linfield in both the League Cup and the Danske Bank Premiership in the last ten days. Kris Lindsay’s men start the weekend in eighth place in the table, having defeated Carrick Rangers 2-1 at Stangmore Park back at the end of the September.

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

The top two meet again at Seaview with all to play for as the Bannsiders could find their way to the top of the table with a victory against the table-topping Crues. Stephen Baxter’s side dropped points on the road last week against Ballymena United and also faced the double blow with injuries to influential duo Jordan Owens and BJ Burns during that game. It was part of a double header against Ballymena United, as Crusaders followed up Saturday’s stalemate with an exit from the County Antrim Shield on penalties on Tuesday evening.

The Bannsiders still remain unbeaten and on the charge as the comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Warrenpoint Town takes Coleraine within three points of the league leaders going into this game. It’s just under four weeks since these sides last met in the Premiership and Coleraine blitzed their North Belfast opponents at the Ballycastle Road winning 4-2 in what has proved to be Crusaders’ only defeat of the season to date.

Institute v Cliftonville (venue: Brandywell Stadium; kick-off: 3pm)

It was a week’s break for Institute manager Sean Connor as their game with Glenavon was shelved due to the Scottish Challenge Cup. Connor’s impact his since appointment has turned around the fortunes of the North West club, having gone three games unbeaten going into this fixture – including progression to the quarter-finals of the BetMcLean League Cup. Stute’s last defeat was actually against Cliftonville in Connor’s first match in charge, last month.

Paddy McLaughlin returns to his roots at the Brandywell - a ground where he served as both a player with Derry City and a manager with Institute as recently as last season. His Cliftonville side continue to stay in the title mix after their 1-0 win over Larne last Saturday which leaves the Reds in third place, just four points off the leaders. It was a good week for McLaughlin’s men, they also secured passage to the semi-finals of the County Antrim Shield with their win over Linfield in midweek.

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

Whilst the current top two in the division meet at Seaview, last season’s top two have an equally intriguing contest at Windsor Park. This is the first meeting between the two sides this season after their titanic tussle for the title that cumulated with the Blues lifting their 53rd Gibson Cup in April. David Healy’s Linfield continue to pick up points as they attempt to catch up on games on their rivals, they followed up their league victory over Dungannon Swifts with defeat in the County Antrim Shield to Cliftonville on penalties on Tuesday.

The Sky Blues stood firm and showed their strength in depth with two good results against Crusaders at the Showgrounds in the last week. They could have snatched win against the league leaders in the Premiership encounter on Saturday but followed that draw up with a win on penalties in the quarter-final of the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday. Heading to Windsor Park could be a daunting task for David Jeffrey and the Sky Blues, Ballymena United haven’t won against Linfield in the league since October 2004.

Warrenpoint Town v Glenavon (venue: Milltown; kick-off: 3pm)

The buzz from the first win of the season for Warrenpoint Town a fortnight ago lasted merely a week, as they slumped to their ninth defeat in ten games against Coleraine at the Showgrounds last week. Stephen McDonnell’s side currently sit three points from safety at the bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership table.

Gary Hamilton and his Glenavon escaped from their Premiership woes with a trip to Scotland to take on Raith Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup on Saturday past, the Lurgan Blues lost 3-1 to their Scottish League One opponents. Glenavon picked up one of their two league wins this season against Warrenpoint back in August.