Find out the verdict this week in the Irish League with two televised Belfast Derbys, North Belfast on Friday Night and East Belfast on Monday night
This weekend sees the biggest weekend to date this season in the Irish League with two sumptuous derbies Crusaders against Cliftonville and Glentoran against Linfield.
CRUSADERS 3 – 2 CLIFTONVILLE
Friday night sees the first of the two big weekend derbies as Seaview hosts the North Belfast derby live on BBC Two. Its the first televised game on BBC as part of a 12 game per season coverage which will run for at least the next three years. And what a way to kickstart it…
Crusaders finally kickstarted their season last week winning 4-1 at Institute. Cliftonville have been scoring goals for fun but haven’t won away since beating Glentoran late on the opening day. They haven’t won at Seaview for 4 years losing 5 and drawing 2 of those 7 matches. Crusaders have a dominating H2H record in recent seasons and at the price you will be trusting a lot to faith that they have finally got their season on track. Cliftonville look a value price given their goalscoring form, and Crusaders leaky defence this season, but I fancy Crusaders to build on last weeks result even if they look a bit short in the betting.
ARDS 1 – 0 INSTITUTE
In contrast, the other game on Friday night doesn’t promise to produce as many goals looking at recent form. Ards had 3 0-0 draws in a row before losing to Glenavon and Cliftonville. Institute are without a win in 5, losing their last 4 but have more realistic ambitions in this game. I see a cagey game with little goals but Ards should be clearer favourites for me in the betting and I think they may be worth siding with here at the price.
COLERAINE 1 – 2 GLENAVON
Best of the 3 Saturday games is at the Coleraine Showgrounds with league leaders Glenavon looking for a 5th win on the bounce. Coleraine have drawn their last four and are starting to show signs that they may not replicate last years brilliant season. Rodney McAree is still looking for his 1st league win and the last 3 league meetings between these sides have ended in draws. But with momentum behind Gary Hamilton’s side, I think they can grind a result here and stay top of the table.
BALLYMENA 2 – 1 NEWRY
The 1st match of the season at the Ballymena Showgrounds sees Newry visit David Jeffrey’s side. Both teams haven’t tasted victory since the opening day of September and Ballymena will be relieved to be back on home soil against potentially easier opposition than they’ve been facing recently.
I think this could be quite a close game given the circumstances but I would expect Ballymena to send their home fans home happy at the first attempt this season.
DUNGANNON 1 – 2 WARRENPOINT
I’m gonna suggest Warrenpoint here at a tempting price as they are unbeaten in 3 and have found plenty of improvement in recent weeks. They were well backed to beat Glentoran last week and despite being a goal and a man down they brought out a MOTM performance from Elliott Morris and rescued a late point. That form looks very strong.
Dungannon have been performing better themselves, beating Crusaders in their last home game for their first league win of the season and going down narrowly at league leaders Glenavon. But this match brings a different type of pressure and with Warrenpoint tails being up they might just produce the minor upset.
GLENTORAN 1 – 3 LINFIELD
Monday night sees the biggest game of the Irish League season so far with league placings dictating a bigger “Big Two” fixture than we’ve seen in recent seasons.
Live on Sky, the opportunity is there to showcase the competitive and improving nature of our local game. What better way than a Belclassico?
Glentoran were halted by Warrenpoint last week when they really should have got the 3 points. They still haven’t lost since losing late to Cliftonville on the opening day and signings of Pepper and Herron have really boosted the central midfield ranks.
Linfield lie 2nd and still have only conceded 2 league goals all season, Cooper and O’Connor in particular have made fast starts to life at Linfield and in both those players they have real matchwinners.
Glentoran look set to be without key playmaker John McGuigan which looks a real blow and I still think their defence will be caused problems by this Linfield forward line. In recent seasons Glentoran have enjoyed real success against Linfield whilst faltering elsewhere but I think that it would be typical for them to enjoy a better league campaign and to taste bitter defeat at the hands of their Belfast cameras live on Sky.
With Glentoran’s injury concerns over McGuigan and Marcus Kane, I think Linfield’s defence will come out on top and a late third goal will ensure they leave East Belfast with the three points.