FOLLOWING Crusaders victory against Linfield last weekend, the gap at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership is down to just two points as we head into matchday 8 on Saturday 19 September (3pm).

Leaders Linfield are at home to Warrenpoint Town in a fixture that they have yet to drop points in during the last two seasons. Warren Feeney’s side won all four league games and an Irish Cup tie in 2014/15 and with Warrenpoint propping up the table, the Blues will be confident of bouncing back at Windsor Park after losing last weekend to Crusaders. Warrenpoint lost to Dungannon Swifts in matchday 7, but were showing decent form in their previous two games including a credible draw with Cliftonville.

Coleraine host Crusaders at the Showgrounds hoping for a change of fortune against the champions having lost on all four occasions last season.  Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens were a thorn in the side of Oran Kearney’s team all last season netting nine goals between them.  If last week’s 3-0 win against Linfield is anything to go by, the Crues look to have their swagger back which isn’t good news for Coleraine who fell to their own 3-0 defeat to Glenavon.

Ballymena United are a team in form in the Danske Bank Premiership and welcome Ballinamallard United to the Showgrounds.  The Sky Blues have won the last four meetings between the sides and are coming off the back of a stunning 6-1 win against Cliftonville. The Mallards are on a five game losing streak including a 3-1 defeat to Carrick Rangers last time out.

Carrick Rangers entertain Glenavon at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena with fans hoping for a repeat of the amazing 4-4 draw the last time these sides met in 2012.  Interestingly Carrick striker Mark Miskimmin netted twice for Glenavon that day before a certain Paul Heatley grabbed a last minute equaliser for Carrick.  Both sides head into this fixture in decent form having won last weekend.

This weekend’s game at Solitude between Cliftonville and Glentoran takes on more significance than normal as the Reds unveil their new management team of Gerard Lyttle and Mal Donaghy following Tommy Breslin’s resignation. With his side conceding six at Ballymena on their last outing, Lyttle will be expecting a strong response from his players as he looks to get his management career off to the perfect start.  As fate would have it, former Cliftonville manager Eddie Patterson is in the opposing dugout with his Glentoran side aiming to capitalise on the Reds inconsistent start to the season.

Portadown are unbeaten against Dungannon Swifts in their last seven meetings as they welcome them to Shamrock Park.  The Ports lost have lost their last two outings (against Linfield and Glentoran) while Dungannon had a morale-boosting win away to Warrenpoint seven days ago.  A win for Darren Murphy’s side would see them leapfrog Portadown in the table.

Danske Bank Premiership

Saturday 19 September, 3pm

Ballymena United  vs  Ballinamallard United

Carrick Rangers vs  Glenavon

Cliftonville  vs  Glentoran

Coleraine  vs  Crusaders

Linfield vs  Warrenpoint Town

Portadown  vs  Dungannon Swifts