PREVIEW - CRUSADERS AIM TO CLINCH TITLE AT SOLITUDE

Crusaders can secure back to back Danske Bank Premiership titles if they can grab a victory at Cliftonville in one of six league games on Tuesday night.

Stephen Baxter’s Crusaders hold an eight point lead at the top of the table and can win their second league title in a row at Solitude if they win or if Linfield fail to win at the Oval. Cliftonville, however will not want their rivals to win the Gibson Cup in their own back yard and will be doing all they can to keep hold of their third place in the table.

Across Belfast, Glentoran can end Linfield’s faint title hopes if they can stop the Blues from winning at the Oval. Alan Kernaghan’s side are in good form of late and have won four of their last five including a 2-0 win at Solitude on Saturday.  Linfield won 3-0 at home to Coleraine in their last outing and David Healy will not want his side to lose to their rivals for the first time this season after winning twice and drawing in the other meeting.

Glenavon host Coleraine at Mourneview Park with the home side winless since the split and the Bannsiders without a victory in their last five.  Although Gary Hamilton’s side can qualify for the Europa League with an Irish Cup win, they can guarantee qualification by finishing 3rd in the table - a spot currently occupied by Cliftonville who they trail by one point.  Coleraine have yet to score let alone take a point from Glenavon in their three meetings to date this season.

In the bottom half of the table it’s ‘bottom vs top’ as Warrenpoint Town face Ballymena United at Milltown.  Barry Gray’s team are battling for Premiership survival and must do without the services of Stephen Hughes who was sent off in their defeat to Ballinamallard at the weekend.  Point are yet to take a point from Ballymena this season falling to three defeats but in each of these games Stephen Moan has received his marching orders.   Ballymena are in the driving seat to finish in seventh after going unbeaten in their last six games.

It’s Dungannon Swifts vs Ballinamallard United at Stangmore Park with the hosts unbeaten against the County Fermanagh side this season. Strikes from Alan Teggart and Ryan Harpur gave Dungannon the three points in February but the Mallards come into this game fighting for their Premiership status.  This fighting spirit was evident on Saturday as Whitey Anderson’s team came out on top against fellow strugglers Warrenpoint and he will be asking for more of the same tonight.

Both Carrick Rangers and Portadown are struggling to get results at the minute as they prepare to meet at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.  A home win could see Carrick move ahead of the Ports on goal difference and this is surely what manager Gary Haveron will be asking for from his players.  In the other dugout, Ports manager Pat McGibbon has endured a miserable tenure so far but he will take some confidence in the fact that his side have taken seven points from their three meetings this season. 

Danske Bank Premiership – Tuesday 19 April, 7.45pm unless stated

Carrick Rangers  v  Portadown

Cliftonville  v  Crusaders

Dungannon Swifts  v  Ballinamallard United

Glenavon  v  Coleraine

Glentoran  v  Linfield

Warrenpoint Town  v  Ballymena United (8pm)