We now approach a busy time of year for our Premiership clubs with games coming thick and fast. This week we look ahead to matchday 18 and what the fixtures have to offer this coming weekend.
The Bannsiders welcome the Co. Down men this weekend to the showgrounds. Coleraine will be aiming to bounce back after an extremely disappointing defeat away at Warrenpoint last weekend. Its been a very ‘stop start’ season for Coleraine this far. They will be desperate to find some sort of form and consistency if they are to be serious about a title charge.
Newry now find themselves in a relegation dog fight with Ards. After a decent display last week in their home defeat to Ballymena they will be aiming to try and get a positive result from this one. An uphill task but Newry have nothing to loose and are more than capable of providing a shock.
A huge game for both clubs at the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership. Ards are in desperate need for what would be a huge 3 points in this fixture. They haven’t win a game in 6 fixtures and sit second bottom. Colin Nixon’s men are really struggling to find the back of the net and he will be relying on the likes of Frazer, Kelly and McLellan to step up to the plate.
Warrenpoint have really turned their terrible start around. Last weekend they defeated Coleraine at Milltown in a very impressive performance. Stephen McDonnell has injected a sense of belief in his players and they are starting to get vital points. This will be a fixture they will be targeting to get maximum points in.
Undoubtedly this is the fixture every ones eyes will be on come Saturday at 3PM. The current top two clash at Ballymena showgrounds in what has the makings of a cracking game. The ‘Sky Blues’ are the in form side and the team everyone are talking about. Jeffrey’s men are unbeaten in their last 11 outings and the last team to defeat them happens to be a certain Linfield. With the chance to go top for Ballymena and their forward players, Friel and Lecky linking up well this is a tough one to call. I have no doubt that DJ will be looking to get one over his former employers.
Linfield find themselves in decent form also. They were very impressive last weekend at home to Cliftonville in a very comfortable 4-2 defeat which probably flattered the reds. David Healy will be demanding Linfield maintain their high standards and stay in pole position. I am predicting a score draw in this one. A tough place to go for any of the clubs!
‘The Reds’ play host to Dungannon Swifts this weekend. Barry Gray will be demanding a huge response from his Cliftonville players after a dismal performance last weekend at Windsor Park. This is a game they are more than capable of winning if they are switched on and their attitude is correct. However, last week the Swifts dumped Cliftonville out of the League Cup on penalties at Solitude. Having lost their previous two league fixtures this is a game they will need to win to keep in touch with the top four sides.
Dungannon have enjoyed positive results in their last five fixtures and have started to find their feet under new boss Kris Lindsay. After a fine display last weekend in a home win over Glentoran I fancy ‘The Swifts’ to get something from the game this coming weekend.
Glenavon managed to bounce back last weekend beating Ards 3-1 at home. Gary Hamilton will be glad to see forward man Andrew Mitchell back among the goals after failing to score in his previous six games. Another team on everyone’s lips are ‘The Lurgan Blues’ about a potential title challenge and they are right up there! The question is can they keep going and kick on?
Institute will be bitterly disappointed after last weekends result. To loose to a penalty on the 90th minute away at the champions must of been hard to take! ‘Stute’ should be high in confidence following that away display last weekend and theres no reason why they cannot replicate that display this weekend at Mourneview. I am going for a 3-1 win to Glenavon.
Champions Crusaders travel to East Belfast this weekend to face Glentoran. The Crues have definitely found their feet again and are starting to go through the gears. Last weekend was typical Crusaders and typical league champions. That never say die attitude and always find a way to win. Scoring in the last minute to put Institute to the sword. Crusaders have an impressive record against Glentoran. Crues suffered their last defeat to the Glens away back in 2015. A record Stephen Baxter will be keen to keep going!
Glentoran have not win in the league since late October. The Glens faithful will not be best pleased with this after a decent start to the season has really and truly come an end. They have slipped to seventh position and find themselves six points adrift of the top 6. Ronnie McFaul will be keen to get back to positive results and start to reel in the top six clubs. However, this is an extremely tough task for the East Belfast side and given their record against the Crues I cannot see them getting anything from the game this weekend.