Glenavon and Glentoran meet this weekend in the Danske Bank Premiership (c) Presseye
Friday, 31 August 2018
The Danske Bank Premiership is starting to heat up as we move into September – as we look ahead to the weekend’s top flight fixtures.
Glenavon v Glentoran (venue: Mourneview Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Gary Hamilton’s week went from one extreme to the other, following a superb 4-0 victory that moved the Lurgan Blues into second place in the Premiership table, they were the victims of the biggest League Cup upset of the round – losing 1-0 to Dergview on Tuesday night. Focus turns back to Premiership form though and their first home victory last Friday since Boxing Day could be the catalyst for another title push this season.
Both sides have enjoyed a fine start to the campaign, Glentoran have defied some early expectations with their current fourth place berth, following victories over Dungannon Swifts and Ards either side of their commendable draw with Coleraine, they also defeated Championship favourites, Larne, in the BetMcLean League Cup in midweek. Ronnie McFall added to his squad in midweek with the signing of former Celtic striker John Herron, whilst goalkeeper Elliott Morris is in line to make a landmark 700th appearance for the club, should he feature in the match.
Institute v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Brandywell; kick-off: 3pm)
Paddy McLaughlin and his newly promoted Institute side have enjoyed a fine start to life in the Danske Bank Premiership, with seven points from their opening four games which included last weekend’s draw with Coleraine at the Ballycastle Road. Michael McCrudden’s goals have been vital to ‘Stute – who go into this game off the back of a comfortable 5-1 League Cup victory over Loughgall.
Dungannon Swifts travel to the Brandywell looking to shake of their poor start to the season, the Swifts currently sit in the relegation playoff place after picking up only a single point to date this season in the league. Their defence of the BetMcLean League Cup wasn’t plain sailing either – being dragged into extra time before overcoming Limavady United on Tuesday evening.
Linfield v Ards (venue: Windsor Park; kick-off: 3pm)
David Healy has been awarded the Football Writers’ Manager of the Month Award for August after the Blues’ unbeaten start to the season. Linfield currently sit top of the Premiership table after four games and showed their character as new signing Michael O’Connor’s late equaliser earned a valuable point away to Cliftonville last Saturday. Andrew Waterworth also returned to form in midweek with five goals in his side’s 8-0 League Cup victory over Moyola Park.
In North Down, things are looking up again for Colin Nixon and his Ards side, without a win or a point going into last weekend’s fixtures – a 4-0 demolition of Newry City followed up by a 3-2 victory over Newington in the League Cup. The early pressure may have been relieved for the time being, but Ards will be looking to draw confidence from their win at Windsor Park against Linfield in the County Antrim Shield last season.
Newry City v Cliftonville (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
Newry City manager Darren Mullen is one of the guests on Cool FM’ BetMcLean Football Show this week and he was disappointed with his side’s showing against Ards last weekend. Conal Delaney’s goal sent the border side into the next round following a narrow 1-0 win against Knockbreda.
Barry Gray’s Cliftonville side were disappointed not to hold out for all three points against Linfield at Solitude last Saturday after conceding a late equaliser against 10 men. Lisburn Distillery were on the wrong side of the Reds’ response with a 5-1 League Cup progression for the North Belfast men, who currently occupy eighth place in the table.
Warrenpoint Town v Ballymena United (venue: Q Radio Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
Stephen McDonnell’s team remain the only side in the division without a point but can take confidence from an encouraging performance in the narrow 2-1 defeat to Champions Crusaders last weekend. Debutant defender Maxim Kougun scored after signing from UCD and Warrenpoint followed up their weekend performance by dispatching Annagh United in the League Cup.
David Jeffrey will be without Andrew Burns who was given a straight red last Friday night against Glenavon, as they suffered a 4-0 defeat – their first of the season. Early signs of improvement have been encouraging for the Braidmen who have been playing all games away from home to date before returning to their Showgrounds home in October, they also ran out comfortable League Cup winners, against Dollingstown.
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