PREVIEW: DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP MATCHDAY 18

Danske Bank Premierhsip leaders Crusaders face a tricky trip to Stangmore Park on Saturday as they take on in-form Dungannon Swifts in one of six matches at 3pm. 

Ballinamallard United  vs  Glenavon  

Meetings between these sides have traditionally been tight affairs with the last two games ending in a 1-0 win apiece including a Mallards victory in September.  The Fermanagh men however have found not only wins but points hard to come by recently having lost seven in a row in the Premiership including a 3-1 reverse at Coleraine last Saturday.  Glenavon on the other hand have lost just one in 13, but what will have perhaps disappointed manager Gary Hamilton more is that his side have drawn seven of these 13 matches.

Carrick Rangers  vs  Coleraine                             

Carrick Rangers continue to battle it out near the foot of the table but picked up a valuable win recently against Ballinamallard and a draw at home to Portadown last weekend.  Aaran Callaghan will be aiming for another three points when Coleraine visit East Antrim as the last time the Bannsiders travelled to Carrick they lost 2-1.  However Oran Kearney’s Coleraine are in great form having lost just once in 11 games and have won their last three.

Cliftonville  vs  Ballymena United  

These teams have produced a remarkable 22 goals in their last four meetings and this game promises to be no different.  With Cliftonville winning their last eight games at Solitude and coming off the back of a tremendous 2-1 win at Windsor Park last week, another victory would see the Reds building up some good momentum as we head into the busy December period.  A brace of Tony Kane penalties helped the Sky Blues to a 3-2 win in this fixture in September, but they lost 4-1 at home last week to Dungannon Swifts as they dropped from 3rd to 5th in the table.    

Dungannon Swifts  vs  Crusaders  

Stangmore Park is always a tough place to go and this weekend should be no different for leaders Crusaders as they head to there to face Dungannon Swifts.  Rodney McAree’s side have not beaten the Crues in their last 13 attempts but with striker Andy Mitchell in top form there is sure to be goals in this one.  A fantastic 4-1 win for the Swifts against a top Ballymena Utd team last time out will only boost their confidence as leaders Crusaders head to Stangmore.  The Crues scored their fourth 90th minute goal of the season last Saturday to grab another win and go seven points clear at the top.

Glentoran  vs  Ards   

When these sides met in the reverse fixture in September, the Glens were easily beaten 2-0.  However, since Gary Haveron has been installed as Glentoran manager they have climbed the table and now find themselves just one point behind Saturday’s opponents.  Ards, despite losing to Crusaders in their last match, will be proud that they took the champions all the way only to fall to a 93rd minute strike, and this is surely what manager Niall Currie will be saying to his players. The last three meetings at the Oval have resulted in wins for the home side.

Portadown  vs  Linfield     

Linfield’s title challenge took a hit last week after they slipped to their second defeat of the season, both to Cliftonville.  They will be looking to bounce back this Saturday as they visit Shamrock Park to face Portadown, their recent record there is not very impressive.  Portadown have won four and drawn once in their last five meetings with Linfield at Shamrock and if Vinny Arkins can get another victory, it might just give his side some much needed confidence as they look to climb off the foot of the table.

Danske Bank Premiership – Saturday 26 November, 3pm

Ballinamallard United v Glevanon

Carrick Rangers v Coleraine

Cliftonville v Ballymena United

Dungannon Swifts v Crusaders

Glentoran v Ards

Portadown v Linfield