Irish Premiership: Coleraine hoping to continue unbeaten league run

Brad Lyons scored in Coleraine's 2-1 win over Carrick Rangers at Taylor's Avenue on 10 October
Brad Lyons scored in Coleraine's 2-1 win over Carrick Rangers at Taylor's Avenue on 10 October

Coleraine will look to extend their unbeaten league run to 10 matches when they face Carrick Rangers on Saturday.

The in-form Bannsiders are level with third-placed Linfield on 33 points.

"There is a real hunger in the dressing room, a real determination and drive to do well. We have belief we can keep our run going," said manager Oran Kearney.

Like Coleraine, Cliftonville have won six and drawn three of their last nine Premiership games and lie four points behind leaders Crusaders.

The Reds are without defenders Marc Smyth and Eamon Seydak as they prepare to entertain ninth-placed Ballinamallard United, who are awaiting news on the fitness of Jason McCartney.

Struggling Carrick Rangers will be searching for their first league win since 12 September when they travel to Ballycastle Road.

Crusaders aim to 'keep focus'

Pacesetters Crusaders have not tasted defeat in the league since their opening day reverse by Portadown, winning 12 and drawing three of their 15 fixtures since 8 August.

"We have to keep our foot on the pedal, keep our focus and work hard to be the best we can be," said Crues manager Stephen Baxter ahead of their trip to bottom club Warrenpoint Town.

Baxter has an injury doubt over Jordan Forsythe while Warrenpoint, who have lost 10 successive league games, should be boosted by their midweek League Cup quarter-final win at Institute.

Linfield's title bid has suffered a double blow in recent weeks with defeats at the hands of Cliftonville and Crusaders and manager David Healy is under no illusions about the nature of the task in hand.

"I knew when I came into this job that it was going to be tough. We need big characters in the dressing room, who are willing to stand up and be counted. I'm determined to bring success back to the club," said Healy prior to a clash with Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

Alan Kernaghan succeeded Eddie Patterson as manager of Glentoran
Alan Kernaghan succeeded Eddie Patterson as manager of Glentoran

Kernaghan chasing first win

Glentoran boss Alan Kernaghan is seeking his first win since taking over the reins at the Oval but was encouraged by some facets of his side's performance in the 3-2 League Cup loss to Cliftonville.

"I'm really pleased with parts of our play and with the progress we are making. We are just making some bad decisions and showing a lack of discipline on occasions," explained the former Republic of Ireland international.

The Glens had Curtis Allen sent-off at Solitude, while defender Willie Garrett will miss the visit of Dungannon Swifts after being taken to hospital with a suspected fractured kneecap.

The Swifts come into the game on the back of seven league defeats, their last of those five by a single goal, and Rodney McAree waits for a fitness report on midfielder Matt Hazley, who has a heel problem.

Portadown, who recovered from two goals down to beat Carrick Rangers last week, are away to Ballymena United, who have David Cushley, Matthew Tipton and Gary Thompson back in their ranks after missing the cup derby defeat by Coleraine.

Gavin Taggart is still missing through injury but a win for the Sky Blues would see them move above their opponents into seventh spot in the table.

"Portadown have a best starting XI to compare with any in the league but something has been going wrong for them in recent months. We will try to exploit any weaknesses we can find," observed Ballymena manager Glenn Ferguson.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Ballymena UnitedvPortadown
CliftonvillevBallinamallard United
ColerainevCarrick Rangers
GlentoranvDungannon Swifts
Warrenpoint TownvCrusaders
Commentary on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound and BBC Sport NI website

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