Linfield's Aaron Burns (Picture: Presseye - Brian Little)

DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP MATCHDAY 31 PREVIEW

Leaders Crusaders head to Carrick Rangers on Saturday while Cliftonville host Linfield in this weekend’s Danske Bank Premiership fixtures.

Carrick Rangers meet Crusaders twice this week with both games at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena, the first of which is on Saturday at 3pm.  Gary Haveron’s side sit in 11th place in the league while the Crues find themselves eight points clear at the top of the table. Crusaders have won each of the last 12 meetings scoring 45 times and conceding just 10.

Solitude is the venue once more as Cliftonville host Linfield for the second time this month.  The Blues convincingly won 3-0 in the Irish Cup two weeks ago and manager David Healy will be asking his players for more of the same as they look to keep winning in the hope that Crusaders drop points above them.  Reds boss Gerard Lyttle will be asked for a marked improvement from his team who ended the aforementioned Irish Cup tie with just nine players after Conor Devlin and Caoimhin Bonner receiving their marching orders.

David Jeffrey will lead his side out at the Showgrounds for the first time as they welcome Warrenpoint Town at 3pm.  Ballymena United secured a fantastic point at Seaview last weekend and a win could potentially put them in seventh if other results go their way.  Warrenpoint lost last time out but to an in-form Glenavon side so Barry Gray will be aiming to get his team’s relegation battle back on track with a win here.  Point have lost just twice in 11 games.

Coleraine entertain Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds with Oran Kearney’s team just three points off third place in the table.  The Bannsiders have won both meetings this season without conceding and have won their last two Premiership fixtures beating Cliftonville and Portadown.  Dungannon have only lost once in their last six league games in a run that has given them some breathing space from the relegation battle beneath them, but Rodney McAree will want to keep that form going as we reach the tail end of the season.

Glenavon have lost just once in 15 games as they face Ballinamallard United at Mourneview Park. Gary Hamilton’s side sit in fourth in the table and have beaten the Mallards on both occasions this campaign with ‘Fabio’ O’Brien netting a hat-trick in the last game.  Whitey Anderson has seen his team take four points from their last two games lifting them four points above the foot of the table.

It’s Glentoran v Portadown at the Oval with both sides desperate to find some form as we head towards the end of the season. The Ports won this game 5-3 at Shamrock in December with the Glens winning 1-0 at the Oval in September. 

Danske Bank Premiership  - Saturday 19 March – 3pm

Ballymena United   v  Warrenpoint Town

Carrick Rangers  v  Crusaders

Cliftonville  v  Linfield

Coleraine  v  Dungannon Swifts

Glenavon  v  Ballinamallard United

Glentoran  v  Portadown