Michael Carvill celebrates with Paul Heatley after firing Crusaders ahead against Cliftonville (Picture by Stephen Hamilton / PressEye)

PREVIEW - DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP - MATCHDAY 27

Danske Bank Premiership leaders Crusaders face a tricky game away to Glenavon in this Saturdays Matchday 27 fixtures while Linfield travel to Stangmore to face in-form Dungannon Swifts.

Ballymena United vs Carrick Rangers 

In a warm-up for the League Cup Final, Ballymena United host Carrick at the Showgrounds with the Braidmen looking for their fifth win in a row against the East Antrim side.  David Jeffrey’s side have won 2-0 and 4-1 in this fixture this season with a remarkable six different goal-scorers.  However they came up short last weekend in a 2-0 defeat to Linfield, which was their first game in the last 10 that they had failed to find the net. Carrick go into this game winless in their last seven in all competitions but will not want to lose to their future Cup Final opponents.  Aaron Callaghan’s side took a point at Cliftonville in their last game away from home, and another performance like that would surely provide them with a much-needed confidence boost.

Cliftonville vs Portadown

A stat that seems to be going on and on will once again be brought up as Cliftonville welcome Portadown to Solitude.  The Reds have now won their last 11 matches against the Ports without conceding a single goal and few would be shocked if this continued in North Belfast when these sides meet on 28 January.  Ten-man Cliftonville won the last meeting 1-0 in December thanks to a Gary Breen own-goal.  A sickening leg break suffered by Ryan Catney at Seaview last Saturday will rule the Reds midfielder out for the remainder of the season at least.  The Ports have lost their last four Premiership outings including a 2-1 defeat to rivals Glenavon last time out as well as a 5-0 thumping by Glentoran.

Coleraine vs Ards 

Both sides come into this game in very different form with the Bannsiders winning their last five games in all competitions while Ards have lost their last four.  Coleraine had an excellent 2-1 win at Ballinamallard on Saturday thanks to a double from their top scorer Jamie McGonigle, but it was a different story for Ards who went down 3-1 at home to Glentoran.  However, these sides drew 1-1 when they met in December with the Bannsiders coming from a goal down.   

Dungannon Swifts vs Linfield 

Dungannon will try to beat Linfield for the first time in their last 10 attempts when they meet at Stangmore Park.  The Blues have won nine and drawn once during this run scoring an impressive 28 times with the Swifts managing to find the net just twice.  However, with the Premiership’s top scorer Andrew Mitchell banging the goals in for Dungannon, this could prove to be a tricky match for Linfield.  Blues striker Andrew Waterworth is also a man in form though with four goals in his last five appearances.

Glenavon vs Crusaders 

These two sides always produce exciting contests and this game is sure to be no different.  Both are in good form and with the Crues closing in on another title they will not want to drop any points.  A 1-0 win over 10-man Cliftonville last Saturday kept their lead at the top of the table to seven points and this game is not one that Stephen Baxter will be taking lightly. In the last meeting at Mourneview Park, the Crues came back from 3-1 down to snatch a last gasp draw.  Glenavon though come into this match on a high after beating their Mid-Ulster rivals Portadown 2-1 last time out.

Glentoran vs Ballinamallard United

The Glens really need to start to put points on the board consistently if they are to have any chance of a top 6 finish and a victory against the Mallards would make it two wins in a row for Gary Haveron’s side. A 3-1 win away to Ards last weekend thanks to two goals from Stephen O’Flynn sees the Glens lie six points adrift of the top half.  However Ballinamallard seem to have the Glens number in recent games with the Fermanagh side having taken four points from their last two visits to the Oval while the Glens have only won one of the last five meetings.  On top of this, the Mallards come into this game in decent form with only one defeat in their last five Premiership games.

Danske Bank Premiership – Saturday 28 January, 3pm

Ballymena United  v  Carrick Rangers

Cliftonville  v  Portadown

Coleraine  v  Ards

Dungannon Swifts  v  Linfield

Glenavon  v  Crusaders

Glentoran  v  Ballinamallard United