This weekend sees a full list of fixtures for the normal Saturday three o’clock kick-off times. We witnessed a few interesting results midweek with champions Crusaders losing again, this time at the hands of Dungannon Swifts. Coleraine also dropped points in the local derby against Ballymena.
Matchday nine has a few potential tricky away ties for some clubs. Struggling Crusaders travel to the Brandywell to face Institute, Coleraine travel to face Newry City and Glentoran head south to play Warrenpoint.
If history is anything to go by in this fixture Ards may have to settle for another defeat at the hands of Cliftonville. Ards have only managed one draw against Cliftonville in the previous ten fixtures between the two sides. The North Belfast side picked up a valuable late victory last weekend at home to Ballymena. Ards lost midweek 2-0 to Glenavon and it is hard not to fancy the reds to win this encounter.
A very tough fixture to call at Mourneview in the mid-Ulster derby. Last three meetings between the pair have seen 3 goals or more in this tasty encounter. Dungannon picked up their first win of the season with a well-deserved victory over champions Crusaders. New manager Kris Lindsay will take charge of the Swifts this Saturday against his old foes at Glenavon. With the Lurgan Blues flying high and scoring goals, my bet is on them to pick up maximum points in the derby.
Given the recent form of champions Crusaders, some may say I am crazy with this one! With a long journey to the North West to face newcomers Stute who have started well I fancy the Crues to get back on track after a poor start to their title defence. A fixture in the past that has produced a goal fest with just the 26 goals in their last five meetings! Expect the Crues to be out of the traps sharp as Stephen Baxter will be expecting a huge reaction.
Linfield put their unbeaten record on the line this week at Windsor where they are home to Ballymena. The Blues have been impressive thus far with only conceding one goal in eight league games. After a scoreless draw in the North Coast with Coleraine on Saturday past, I expect Linfield to get back to winning ways this weekend. David Jeffrey brings his Ballymena side to Windsor who themselves have made a decent start and lye in fifth position. Giving the type of manager ‘Big Davy’ is he will have his side fired up for this one. There is no doubt they will come to Windsor and aim to frustrate Linfield. An early goal for the blues could be vital.
Coleraine remains the only other unbeaten team in the league thus far. With a spirited 2-2 draw against Ballymena midweek with 10 men, the Bannsiders will be looking to get back on track. A long journey ahead of them from the North Coast to South Armagh I feel will not play a part in the result. Newry will be aiming to pick up as many points as possible at home to maintain their Premiership status. However, I feel Coleraine will just have to much firepower for them on the day.
The banana skin fixture could well come this weekend at Milltown as the Glens travel to face the Point. Warrenpoint have had two positive results especially with their late victory over Cliftonville two weeks ago after an extremely tough start. The Glens have started impressively and should go into this one high in confidence. However, I think the Point may have a surge of momentum now and could kick-start their season.