Looking ahead to the weekend’s games in the Irish League and we are back to a full set of fixtures. With one game on this Friday night between Newry and Warrenpoint; the remaining five at the usual time on Saturday – the standout fixture between Coleraine and Linfield.
Here are my Irish League predictions for Matchday 8:
It’s been over a year since Coleraine tasted domestic defeat on home soil and they face league leaders Linfield in a mouthwatering showdown. It’s a new era for Coleraine following the departure of Oran Kearney and a home debut for new man Rodney McAree. This could mean a very tough fixture for Linfield.
Linfield’s defence gets praised week in week out, and rightly so, the Blues have conceded just one league goal in their campaign. With Cooper, Kearns and Waterworth all firing, the Blues could be hard to beat on a ground where they’ve had success in the past. I think with the extra rest for the Bannsiders midweek and the new manager effect, they can squeeze a draw.
This is another game I’m struggling to call. Crusaders are hard to be overly confident about at the moment and aren’t value at the price. However, Glenavon have scored for fun this season and are the joint top scorers in the league.
With a minor blemish in the form of a home defeat against Linfield, they have got results against big teams such as Glentoran, suggesting they are a force to be reckoned with on home soil. I think we can expect goals and with question marks over Crusaders defence this season, I’ll edge it to the Lurgan Blues at a price.
Glentoran has made an encouraging start to the season with the new signings bedding in well. It seems the feel-good factor is very much coming back to East Belfast. They haven’t tasted defeat since losing late on the opening day and have won 11 and drawn 1 of their last 12 league games at home to Institute this century.
“The Stute” have made an encouraging start and can’t be underestimated and it wasn’t so long ago (last season) that Glentoran was struggling to beat the bottom half sides. With that said, I think it will be a narrow home win.
The last game of the weekend is at Stragmore Park where Dungannon embark on a new era without Rodney McAree while also finding themselves bottom of the table also. However, Ards will prove stubborn opponents. Having kept four clean sheets in a row in all competitions, two of against Linfield and Coleraine, it’s hard to see their defence penetrated this time around.
Dungannon at odds on looks a very short price given they haven’t won a game this season and Ards might sneak the 3 points here at a cost.
Its been a disappointing start to the season for Cliftonville who haven’t built on their late win on matchday one over Glentoran, winning just 1 of their six league matches since. They face a freshened Ballymena side who haven’t played since the 1st September for varying reasons.
They’ll be chomping at the bit to get back playing and test the vulnerability shown by The Reds after defeats to Newry and Warrenpoint. The away side are a value price in a game which should have goals.