Coleraine take on Linfield in the Danske Bank Premiership (c) Presseye

DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP: MATCHDAY 8 PREVIEW

The Danske Bank Premiership schedule is action packed this weekend, starting tonight at Newry followed by some top of the table clashes, we preview the weekend's games.

Friday 21 September

Newry City v Warrenpoint Town (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

Dubbed the ‘Mourne Ultimatum’ – this historic first meeting between the neighbouring South Down clubs in the Danske Bank Premiership promises to be a cracking game at the Newry Showgrounds. The hosts go into this game off the back of back-to-back Premiership defeats on their travels Crusaders and Glentoran and currently are in ninth place.

Stephen McDonnell’s Warrenpoint finally recorded their first points of the season in stunning fashion last weekend, as two goals in less than half a minute of stoppage time seen them defeat Cliftonville in front of their long-suffering fans. The ‘Point will look to now build on that and potentially go level on points with their rivals with a win tonight.

Saturday 22 September

Cliftonville v Ballymena United (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)

The Reds will still be reeling from last Saturday’s shock late defeat to Warrenpoint Town, but having overcome Lisburn Distillery comfortably in the midweek County Antrim Shield – Barry Gray will be hoping the players have the last league result out of their system as they look to kick-start again and move the North Belfast side out of the bottom half of the table.

In the visiting dugout David Jeffrey brings his Ballymena United side to Solitude for their first game in three weeks. The Sky Blues have watched on for the last two gameweeks from the sidelines and then had their County Antrim Shield first round tie postponed on Tuesday evening due to the weather, but still currently occupy fifth position.

Coleraine v Linfield (venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

The scene is set for new Coleraine manager Rodney McAree who takes to the touchline for the first time on Saturday in a huge clash with Danske Bank Premiership leaders, Linfield. Since the sudden departure of Oran Kearney, the Bannsiders played out a scoreless draw with Ards last week but go into this game still unbeaten domestically, but five points behind their opponents with a game in hand.

David Healy’s resurrection of Linfield’s fortunes has continued with the unbeaten Blues determined to bring the Gibson Cup back to Windsor Park come May. Whilst Joel Cooper has earned many plaudits this season, Linfield have conceded only one league goal to date this season but come into the game following a narrow hard-fought victory over PSNI in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday evening.

Dungannon Swifts v Ards (venue: Stangmore Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Life without Rodney McAree didn’t go as hoped last week for the Swifts as they were convincingly beaten by Linfield at Windsor Park. Dungannon Swifts will regroup for a vitally important home game against Ards as they currently sit bottom of the Premiership table without a win this season.

Ards have gone through the same process as the Swifts and despite currently still being in tenth place – they go into this game on a run of five games unbeaten in all competitions including credible draws against both Linfield and Coleraine in their last two outings and defeated Championship side Dundela in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday.

Glenavon v Crusaders (venue: Mourneview Park; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s another big game at the top of the table at Mourneview Park as second placed Glenavon aim to continue their fine start to the season with the visit of reigning Danske Bank Premiership champions, Crusaders. Since their opening day defeat to Linfield – the Lurgan Blues have gone five league games unbeaten winning four of these, including last week’s victory over Institute at the Brandywell.

Two wins in a week for Stephen Baxter and Crusaders have seemingly got the Champions back on track – Saturday’s slender league win over Newry City at home was followed up by a similarly close Shield win over Knockbreda on Tuesday. The Crues currently trail leaders Linfield by seven points, but have a game in hand still to play.

Glentoran v Institute (venue: The Oval; kick-off: 3pm)

Ronnie McFall’s resilient new look Glentoran team start the day seven games unbeaten having most recently defeated Queens University in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday thanks to a late Curtis Allen goal.

The honeymoon period for Institute and manager Paddy McLaughlin may well be over in the Danske Bank Premiership as they are now four league games without a win and have lost their last two games (against Cliftonville and Glenavon) going into this encounter at the Oval.