Action from Newry City v Warrenpoint Town earlier this season (c) Presseye
Friday, 25 January 2019
There's five cracking Danske Bank Premiership matches this Saturday, we look ahead to all of the games in our weekly preview.
Ballymena United v Ards (venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
The Sky Blues may have seen the gap at the top of the table increase to six points during the week, but following their impressive 2-0 win against Glenavon last Saturday, optimism has returned to the Showgrounds following Ballymena United’s first league win of 2019. David Jeffrey’s side remain in second place with a game in hand on leaders Linfield.
Optimism is far from high in the Ards camp, they are still rooted to the bottom of the Premiership table and ten points from escaping the relegation zone. Colin Nixon has been busy in the transfer window but they will to find a plan to beat the Sky Blues who they have met on three occasions this season but have lost all three – they also were defeated last time out on Friday past to Coleraine at home.
Cliftonville v Glenavon (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)
Michael Press takes to the Solitude dugout for the first time as interim Cliftonville manager following the departure of Barry Gray in the aftermath of last week’s defeat to Dungannon Swifts. Press will be familiar to the club having served as manager of the club’s second string and his role will be to get the Reds back to winning ways after
Another top half team out of form is Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon side – they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Ballymena United to extend their winless run in the league to six games. The Lurgan Blues currently occupy fourth place but a win for the Reds could bring them within just two points of the one time title challengers – the only meeting between the two sides this season ended in Cliftonville’s favour – winning 4-2 back in December with Rory Donnelly scoring twice.
Coleraine v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
Bannsiders boss Rodney McAree welcomes his former club to the Ballycastle Road, as his new look side look to close in on the top four after a late victory over Ards last Friday. New signing Cormac Burke could be in line to feature against his former club alongside Dylan Davidson (from Glentoran) but they will definitely be without winger Darren McCauley who has finally brought an end to his long running transfer saga after signing for Scottish club Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Kris Lindsay’s Swifts go into the game as one of the league’s form teams having gone unbeaten in their last four games with three wins in that run. This includes their fine 3-1 win against Cliftonville as they have opened up an eight point cushion from the relegation places. Their last defeat on the road came at the Coleraine Showgrounds back in December, when they lost 2-1 in their only meeting this season.
Institute v Crusaders (venue: Brandywell Stadium; kick-off: 3pm)
Both clubs will be looking to bounce back from defeats last week in the Danske Bank Premiership. Institute’s form has suffered so far in 2019 with three defeats in their last trio of games in all competitions. The speculation surrounding captain Michael McCrudden has not helped ‘Stute
The Crues may have seen their route back into the title race shut down last Saturday with Jordan Stewart’s early goal against Linfield increased the gap between the sides to nine points. Stephen Baxter will look to make it a clean sweep of Premiership victories over the North West side having won both their matches against Institute to date this season.
Newry City v Warrenpoint Town (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
The return of the comically dubbed ‘Mourne Ultimatum’ derby as there is more than local pride at stake as Newry City are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership. Despite a midweek defeat to Linfield, they remain only two points ahead of Ards and firmly in the relegation playoff place with time starting to run out.
Local rivals Warrenpoint by comparison have enjoyed a fine start to the new year with three wins from four games including a 4-0 victory over Institute last Saturday at the Q Radio Arena. That win leaves them in ninth place but only four points away from a potential place in the Europa Playoff spot. The two derby games in the Premiership have both ended in draws this season.