Ballinamallard Utd's Adam Lecky celebrates with Josh McElwaine (Picture Credit: Declan Roughan / Press Eye)

PREVIEW: DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP MATCHDAY 8

The Danske Bank Premiership kicks off on Friday night with Ards trip to Ballinamallard United followed by five fascinating fixtures on Saturday afternoon.

Ballinamallard United vs Ards

Ballinamallard United welcome Ards to Ferney Park on Friday night (8pm) to kick off this weekend’s Danske Bank Premiership. Few would have predicted a Mallards win at Glenavon last Saturday but that is what happened with Adam Lecky slotting home a 92nd minute penalty to give the Fermanagh side their first league win of the season. They might just need this much needed confidence boost as they face high-flying Ards.  Probably even fewer would have predicted that Niall Currie’s side would come into this game sitting in 2nd place in the table having won four of their seven games so far this season. A win away to the Mallards on a Friday night could be the result that shows the rest of the Premiership that Ards current form is not just temporary. 

Carrick Rangers  vs  Linfield

Carrick Rangers welcome Linfield to the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena as they aim to improve on their results against the Blues in the last campaign when they only took a point from their three meetings.  Carrick lie in 11th place with only one win this season and have shipped six goals in their last two outings. David Healy’s in-form Linfield will be looking at this game as a chance to take the spoils as his side battle it out at the top end of the table. The Blues are unbeaten this campaign and have scored nine in their last two games.

Cliftonville vs Coleraine

It’s Cliftonville vs Coleraine with the Reds desperately needing a positive result to steady the ship having lost three of their last four Premiership games.  This will be easier said than done though with Coleraine winning four and drawing one of their last five games in all competitions.  With that one draw being against Crusaders, it shows just how well Oran Kearney’s side have been playing.  The Bannsiders won the last two meetings between the sides last season, netting three goals on each occasion, so Gerard Lyttle will be hoping his Cliftonville side can end this run by getting the victory they so desperately need at Solitude.

Dungannon Swifts vs  Glenavon                           

Dungannon Swifts and Glenavon have had decent starts to the season and they meet at Stangmore Park with both looking for what could be an important three points if they can grab the win.  Rodney McAree’s Swifts lost all four meetings last season but on current form this game really could go either way.  Before last Saturday’s defeat at Crusaders the Swifts were unbeaten in five games having beaten the likes of Coleraine and Cliftonville while drawing at Linfield.  Glenavon had a tremendous start to their season but have dropped points in their last two following a shock defeat to Ballinamallard United and conceding a late equaliser at Glentoran.  Gary Hamilton will be asking his team for a response to those results starting on Saturday at Stangmore.

Glentoran vs Crusaders

Glentoran still have the Roy Coyle in the Oval dugout for the visit of Crusaders while the club hierarchy decide who will get the managerial role on a permanent basis. Glens fans will be hoping that Coyle can not only steady the ship but help to put some points on the table.  A lacklustre performance and a loss to Ards last weekend was followed up with a spirited 2-2 draw with Glenavon in midweek but no doubt the Crues will prove to be a tougher test than those last two games.  Champions Crusaders have continued the form that has seen them win two titles on the bounce which included seven wins and a draw in the eight Premiership meetings against the Glens in that time.  Stephen Baxter’s side are unbeaten in their last 15 Premiership games stretching back to March, winning an impressive 13 and drawing the other two.

Portadown   vs   Ballymena United 

After an indifferent start to their campaign, Portadown are starting to claw back the teams above them as they look to move off the foot of the table.  Despite their defeat at Linfield last time out, their recent 4-0 win against Carrick Rangers will have done a lot for the player’s confidence as Ballymena United head to Shamrock Park.  Ballymena United have lost just once in their last six league games but have only kept a clean sheet once in their last nine. We might never see a repeat of 2015’s fantastic 5-5 draw but going on recent results this game should certainly provide its fair share of entertainment.

Danske Bank Premiership 

Friday 16 September – 8pm

Ballinamallard United  v  Ards

Saturday 17 September  - 3pm

Carrick Rangers  v  Linfield

Cliftonville  v  Coleraine

Dungannon Swifts  v  Glenavon

Glentoran  v  Crusaders

Portadown  v  Ballymena United