Irish Premiership: Crusaders aiming to extend lead

Crusaders beat Portadown to go to the top of the Irish Premiership table
Crusaders beat Portadown to go to the top of the Irish Premiership table

Champions Crusaders will open a four-point gap on their rivals at the top of the Irish Premiership if they win away to third-placed Ards on Saturday.

With Linfield and Glenavon not playing because of international call-ups, the Crues have the chance to surge clear.

Ards suffered their first defeat of the campaign at Glenavon last weekend.

"We have a few injuries which are hurting us. But I have been delighted with the attitude of the players," said Ards manager Niall Currie.

Ards, who beat Newry in the League Cup on Tuesday night, will be without injured midfielder Fra Brennan and striker Gary Liggett, and several others are rated as doubtful.

"They were disappointed to lose to Glenavon, which shows you where we are now."

Crues are favourites to take the points at Bangor and the start to their title defence has satisfied manager Stephen Baxter.

"All the teams had lots of games in August and it was important to get points on the board," he said.

"We are in a god position, but it is only a few games into the season and we are still trying to get some players fit as well."

Dungannon Swifts, who are up to fifth place having taken seven points from their last three fixtures, are at home to Ballymena United on Saturday.

"It has been very encouraging, winning at Cliftonville and then getting a point at Linfield. It is great for people around the club," said team boss Rodney McAree.

Former Drogheda United and Shelbourne midfielder Alan Byrne has joined Portadown
Former Drogheda United and Shelbourne midfielder Alan Byrne has joined Portadown

Former Shelbourne midfielder Alan Byrne is in line for his Irish League debut when Portadown face Carrick Rangers at Shamrock Park.

The 33-year-old recently completed a move to the Ports after a short spell at Waterford United.

Portadown, who have lost their last three in the Premiership, are still trying to get a 12-point deduction overturned.

The punishment was imposed when they were found guilty of paying as player who had been registered as an amateur and an appeal hearing is scheduled for 12 September.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - 3 September (15:00 BST)
Coverage on Radio Ulster's Sportsound
ArdsvCrusaders
Ballinamallard UnitedvColeraine
Dungannon SwiftsvBallymena United
Portadown vCarrick Rangers

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