Irish Premiership: Ballymena boss Jeffrey expects tough test from Glens

David Jeffrey's Ballymena have bounced back from a 6-0 opening day hammering by Crusaders
David Jeffrey's Ballymena have bounced back from a 6-0 opening day hammering by Crusaders

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey says he expects to face a "hungry" Glentoran team when the sides meet in Saturday's Irish Premiership clash.

The Sky Blues are up to third in the table, having lost just one of seven league outings, while Glentoran are in a lowly 10th with two wins from eight.

"The Glentoran players won't enjoy being in the position they are in."

"They will come here wanting to do well for themselves and the club. we must be up for it and fully focused," he said.

Front pair on form

The Sky Blues' new strike partnership of Cathair Friel and Johnny McMurray have plundered 11 goals between them in all competitions so far this season and Jeffrey is delighted with the form of his forward duo.

"They are both natural goal-scorers and have been given an opportunity here. They are excellent finishers and are doing well," added the United boss.

Director of Football Roy Coyle may be in charge of the Glens for the final time, with Oval chairman Stephen Henderson indicating that a permanent managerial appointment may be made by the middle of next week.

Leaders Crusaders enjoy a five-point lead at the top and will hope to continue a sequence which has seen them beat Ballinamallard United on the previous six occasions the Fermanagh club have visited Seaview.

Crues winger David Cushley is available again for Stephen Baxter's side after suspension.

Second-placed Linfield are keeping up their pursuit of the champions and entertain Ards, who have not won against the Blues at Windsor Park for 30 years.

Ards boss Niall Currie is without central defender Johnny Taylor, while midfielder Kyle Cherry is doubtful, but David McAllister and Craig McMillan are both set to return after injury.

"Ards are a good side, they have a really good work ethic and get bodies in the box. They have a freshness about their team," said Linfield boss David Healy.

Glenavon won all four league games against Coleraine in the 2015-16 campaign
Glenavon won all four league games against Coleraine in the 2015-16 campaign

Coleraine lost all four league meetings against Glenavon last season, failing to score in any of them, but Bannsiders manager Oran Kearney appears unconcerned by that statistic as he prepares to face Gary Hamilton's side at Ballycastle Road.

"It's not about rectifying records against certain teams, it's all about picking up three points against any opposition on a given day," argued Kearney. whose side's defeat by Cliftonville last Saturday brought to an end a five-game unbeaten run.

The Lurgan Blues must plan without Hamilton and defender Kris Lindsay, who were both red-carded in last week's drawn match with Dungannon Swifts.

Reds have upper had on Ports

Cliftonville travel to Shamrock Park to face Portadown, having won the last 10 meetings between the teams, the mid-Ulster club having failed to score in any of those encounters.

Dungannon Swifts failed to register a victory over Carrick Rangers during the last campaign and have not won any of their last four fixtures of the present term, albeit against last season's top three and an in-form Ballymena.

Carrick boss Kieran Harding has a number of injury concerns as his team try to improve on a dismal record of just four points from eight top-flight games.

Seanna Foster is out with a knee injury, while central defender Paddy McNally faces a late fitness assessment.

Danske Bank Premiership - 15:00 BST kick-offs
Coverage on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound
Ballymena UtdvGlentoran
Carrick RangersvDungannon Swifts
ColerainevGlenavon
CrusadersvBallinamallard Utd
LinfieldvArds
PortadownvCliftonville

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