Gavyn Whytre celebrates with Crusaders teammate Declan Caddell (picture Credit: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye)

PREVIEW - DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP MATCHDAY 20

We have reached the midway point of the season with the Danske Bank Premiership table now taking shape.  Crusaders lead the way ahead of Linfield who are five points adrift in the title race while Portadown lie 13 points behind Carrick Rangers and Ballinamallard Utd at the foot of the table.

Ards v Linfield

Ards haven’t won at home in their last six games as they prepare to meet Linfield who are unbeaten in their last five away matches. To make their task even more difficult, Ards, who haven’t recorded a victory against Linfield since 1997, lost their manager after Niall Currie moved to take over the Portadown hot-seat this week. The Blues won 4-0 in a one-sided contest in September at Windsor Park and backed this performance up with a 6-1 win in the County Antrim Shield two weeks ago.

Ballinamallard United v Crusaders

These sides have opposing records with the Mallards losing their last seven games and drawing once in all competitions while the Crues are unbeaten over the same period.  You have to go back three seasons to find the last Ballinamallard win in this fixture with the Crues winning comfortably 5-1 in September at Seaview.  However Mallard’s striker Adam Lecky comes into this game in fine form after netting hat-trick against Ards last week. The Crues came from behind twice last Saturday to snatch a draw with Glentoran.

Cliftonville v Portadown

Cliftonville have won their last 10 games against Portadown without conceding a single goal and they will look to continue this amazing run at Solitude.  The last player to score for the Ports was Gary Twigg in a 1-0 win at Solitude almost three years ago.  Gerard Lyttle’s Cliftonville have won their last nine games at home and Portadown have lost nine of their last 10 outings.  Portadown find themselves 13 points adrift at the foot of the table with Cliftonville sitting in third place.

Dungannon Swifts v Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts have won just one of their last nine games against Carrick Rangers but this victory came in their last Premiership meeting in September.  An Andy Mitchell double helped the Swifts to a 3-0 win but Carrick got revenge with a 2-0 win in the League Cup. That man Mitchell was once again on target in Dungannon’s last outing as they won 1-0 away at Glenavon on Friday night. Despite losing to Linfield a day later, Carrick come into this game in decent form having beaten Coleraine and Dungannon Swifts recently.

Dungannon Swifts have a promotional price for this fixture with entry just £5 for an adult and free for under-14s (when accompanied by a paying adult).

Glenavon v Coleraine

Glenavon have a good recent record against Coleraine having gone unbeaten in their last six meetings, while they have lost just twice in their last 14 in all competitions.  A 1-0 home defeat to Dungannon on Friday was a shock result to some and manager Gary Hamilton will not want to lose two games in a week. When these sides played at the Showgrounds in September, Glenavon threw a 2-0 lead away with the Bannsiders netting twice late on to snatch an unlikely draw.  Coleraine sit four points ahead of the Lurgan Blues and a win would be a great result going into the important festive period.

Glentoran v Ballymena United 

The Glens have lost just one of their last nine league games as they get ready to welcome Ballymena United to the Oval. Glentoran won a tremendous point at Seaview last week and will want to build on that against Ballymena. This fixture is normally very hard to call but United won 4-1 earlier in the season with Tony Kane netting twice as Ballymena came from a goal down at half-time.  United’s latest result saw ex-Glentoran midfielder Fra McCaffrey net a double in a 2-0 win against Portadown.

Danske Bank Premiership – Saturday 10 December 3pm

Ards  v  Linfield

Ballinamallard Utd  v  Crusaders

Cliftonville  v  Portadown

Dungannon Swifts  v  Carrick Rangers

Glenavon  v  Coleraine

Glentoran  v  Ballymena United