Irish Premiership: Baxter expects tough Mourneview test

Glenavon forward Eoin Bradley is challenged by Craig McClean of Crusaders
Glenavon forward Eoin Bradley is challenged by Craig McClean of Crusaders

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter believes the Irish Premiership champions will have to be at their best to overcome Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

The Lurgan Blues have scored 10 goals in their last two games to leave them third, with the Crues back in sixth.

"Glenavon are a team capable of challenging this season - they've incredibly good players and boys that can score goals," said Baxter.

"It's going to be a very tough game but we'll go there with confidence."

That confidence comes from an impressive 5-0 hammering of Ballinamallard United last weekend to chalk up a first win of the campaign.

Baxter may believe that Glenavon are title contenders but Lurgan Blues assistant boss Paul Millar is playing down expectations.

"We are targeting a top-six finish - there are teams out there with far bigger budgets that us," said Millar.

"However, we have a really good squad, a good board behind us and good supporters and we'll go as far as we can.

"This is a big game for us and we are not afraid of anyone. I don't think any team will relish coming to Mourneview to play Glenavon."

Linfield and Cliftonville are the only teams with 100% records after the opening three rounds of matches.

The Blues top the standings on goal difference and Warren Feeney's team take on Coleraine at the Showgrounds.

Cliftonville welcome Carrick Rangers, who lie in seventh after a steady start on their return to the top-flight.

"Carrick are still on the crest of a wave after being promoted from the Championship," said Reds manager Tommy Breslin.

"They will give a very workmanlike performance, total honesty and no lack of skill - they are not to be dismissed lightly.

"I've said to the players that there's no point coming to Glenavon and Portadown and getting three points and then not having the right frame of mind for this game."

Ballymena United occupy bottom spot and loan signing Gareth Rodger is in line to make his debut against Dungannon Swifts, who have David Armstrong suspended for the Stangmore Park encounter.

Portadown will hope to bounce back from their home defeat by Cliftonville when they travel to face the Mallards.

Warrenpoint Town visit the Oval to take on a Glentoran side starting life without Jordan Stewart after his move to Swindon Town.

Danske Bank Premiership - 22 August (15:00 BST)
Ballinamallard UtdvPortadown
CliftonvillevCarrick Rangers
Dungannon SwiftsvBallymena Utd
GlentoranvWarrenpoint Town