Ballymena United's Caithar Friel opens the scoring in one of last season's derby games against Coleraine. (c)Lorcan Doherty/Presseye
Thursday, 28 September 2017
Two big derby games and some huge ties for teams at the wrong end of the table, it promises to be another nail-biting week in the Danske Bank Premiership...
Friday 29 September
Glenavon v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Mourneview Park; kick-off: 7.45pm)
Third place Glenavon keep scoring and are knocking on the door of the top of the league and could potentially go top of the table on Friday night with victory over Dungannon Swifts at Mourneview Park. The Danske Bank Premiership’s top scorers also have a familiar face to the Tyrone side in Andy Mitchell, who has continued where he left off last season – leading the league’s individual scoring chart since his move across Mid-Ulster.
Rodney McAree’s swifts have been quietly picking up points with confidence including a point at Seaview last Saturday. Despite losing the aforementioned Andy Mitchell in the summer, they have a new unlikely talisman in defender Chris Hegarty – the defender has now scored three goals in his last three league games. Can he make it four from four on Friday night?
Bet McLean odds: Glenavon win [8/15], Draw [100/30], Dungannon Swifts win [19/5]
Saturday 30 September
Ballinamallard United v Ards (venue: Ferney Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Is this the week Gavin Dykes finally get their first win of the season? As the Premiership’s bottom side welcome tenth place Ards to Fermanagh in a game that could eventually be a huge three points come the end of the season. The Mallards suffered defeat at home last week to Ballymena United but will be hoping to pick up points in the next few weeks as they play the teams immediately above them in the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Inconsistency and a lack of goals has been the troubles faced by Colin Nixon at Ards this season. Only four league goals for the County Down side who followed up a credible draw with Crusaders with a 3-0 reverse at Glenavon last week.
Bet McLean odds: Ballinamallard United win [6/4], Draw [12/5], Ards win [7/5]
Ballymena United v Coleraine (venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
The first derby game between the sides of the season and more than just bragging rights to play for! Coleraine may have kept their unbeaten run going with a draw against Glentoran last week but they are likely to come up against a highly charged Ballymena United team.
Coleraine will be without the suspended Josh Carson for this game, but Jamie McGonigle and Ciaron Harkin will be boosted by the call-up to the Northern Ireland Under-21 side in mid-week. The Sky Blues edged the rivalry over the course of last season but this game promises to be a cracker in front of a large expected crowd.
Bet McLean odds: Ballymena United win [12/5], Draw [11/4], Coleraine win [5/6]
Cliftonville v Linfield (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)
The last time these two sides met, it was on the Solitude pitch where the Blues claimed their 52nd League title – Reds manager Barry Gray will be hoping that a win against their rivals will allow his side to start making their own memories in what is always an exciting fixture in the calendar.
The bold decision to drop Joe Gormley last week paid off for Gray, as he came off the bench to score twice in the win against Carrick Rangers.
The Blues made light work of Warrenpoint Town last week winning 4-1 in the Friday night fixture at Milltown, but captain Jamie Mulgrew is wary of the threat posed by the Reds and he discusses the game in this week’s Danske Bank Premiership Show with Cool FM which will be available on Friday to watch.
Bet McLean odds: Cliftonville win [100/30], Draw [13/5], Coleraine win [4/6]
Warrenpoint Town v Carrick Rangers (venue: Milltown; kick-off: 3pm)
Only a point seperates the two sides who sit periously close to the bottom of the table, so close that a Ballinamallard win could see either propping up the rest of the Danske Bank Premiership come Saturday evening!
Despite some encouraging early season form, it seems to have deserted Carrick manager David McAlinden as he has watched on for four consecutive defeats throughout September but will be encouraged from their early showing last week against Cliftonville, as they lead for a large part of that game.
Carrick’s four game losing streak is only bettered by a frustrated Matthew Tipton whose border side has now gone five Danske Bank Premiership games without a point. Some
Bet McLean odds: Warrenpoint Town win [Evns], Draw [11/4], Carrick Rangers win [13/20]