It is the 3rd Round of The Irish League Cup. A Total of Five Fixtures are being played tonight in the competition.
Ballymena v Harland & Wolff Welders – 7.45pm
Cliftonville v Carrick Rangers – 7.45pm
Crusaders v Ballinamallard – 7.45pm
Dergview v Ards – 7.45pm
Warrenpoint Town v Dungannon Swifts – 7.45pm
These two sides have played each other quite a few times in recent years. The last match was pre-season this year with Ballymena winning 1-0 thanks to a Matthew Shevlin goal. Ballymena have also knocked HW Welders out of the Toals.com Co Antrim Shield in the 1st Round the last two seasons. It’s not all one-sided though, the Welders beat Ballymena in Pre-season last year 2-0. The Welders needed Penalties to get past Portstewart in the 2nd Rnd whereas Ballymena beat Dollingstown 5-1. With the Sky Blues back at the showgrounds, and hitting a wee bit of form it’s hard to see the Welders getting through this one. Expect it to be tight, especially as these two sides also meet in this years Toals.com Co Antrim Shield next week!! As always it will depend on the side Ballymena put out but DJ will want to take this competition seriously. Millar, Friel, McGrory and Mayse are all in good goalscoring form and could continue this if selected.
Carrick face a massive task in trying to progress to the quarter-finals in this tie with Cliftonville. Cliftonville may still be reeling from losing to Crusaders in the North Belfast Derby on Friday night in front of the Beebs cameras. Carrick have a few ex Ballymena men in their side and do have quality. Caolan Loughran, Denver Gage, Martin Murray and Keeper Aaron Hogg all have ability. They haven’t set a competitive championship alight this year but are capable of a one-off performance here. If Cliftonville take them lightly they will struggle, however Cliftonville have excelled when playing teams of a lower level of late, beating Lisburn Distillery 5-0 and 5-1 this year as well as beating Ballinamallard 6-1 pre season. If Cliftonville put a strong side out expect them to score a few.
Ballinamallard are bottom of the Championship. They have really struggled to adjust to life in this division. Crusaders have also had an indifferent start to the season. Europe didn’t go well and prior to Friday’s victory over Cliftonville, they were in danger of letting their league title slip away very early on in their defence. That derby victory will give them confidence. They have the squad to make changes but will they try and gain some momentum instead? Its all on Stephen Baxters mind, especially dealing with the injuries and fitness issues of some players. Crusaders to struggle early but pull away late in the game looks most likely. As they have done most of this season. Just hope they don’t leave it too late!!
Dergview have three wins from nine in the Championship. Their form has tailed off massively since they pulled off the shock of the last round. They beat high-flying Glenavon 1-0 at Mourneview in August. In Paul Smith, they have a goalscorer in the side but they have lost their last five in the league. If you can win against Glenavon this season you have a chance against Ards but dramatically out of form it’s hard to see them getting anything here. Ards lost out to Institute on Friday night thanks to a late Jarvis strike. Injuries have definitely hit Ards impressive start to the season. Their defence was outstanding before these injuries took their toll. Ards don’t have the biggest squad but may have enough to scrape home against Giant Killers Dergview.
These two meet again after a successful 1st date for Town on Saturday. Warrenpoint took home the three valuable points on Saturday after going to Stangmore and scoring twice. Both sides are near the bottom of the Irish Premiership, or in Dungannon’s case at the bottom. They are struggling without McAree’s calming guidance but then they were struggling a bit with him there too. They do have previous in this competition and are current holders. New Boos K Lindsay has said they will take the competition seriously and try and get momentum for the league. Warrenpoint though will be buoyed by Saturdays win though may have this competition as a priority. Wait on team news and then make a decision. I think possibly Dungannon by one goal.