Irish Premiership: Newry encounter a tough test - Jeffrey

Sky Blues striker Adam Lecky celebrates after scoring the opener in last month's victory at Newry
Sky Blues striker Adam Lecky celebrates after scoring the opener in last month's victory at Newry

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey says the Premiership table-toppers face a stern challenge against lowly Newry City at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

The Sky Blues, who fought back to draw with Coleraine on Boxing Day to lie two points clear of Linfield, clinched a 2-1 win at Newry last month.

"Newry would have been disappointed not to get at least a draw and maybe a victory," said Jeffrey.

"We really had to dig in that night so we know it's going to be tough."

Newry sit second from bottom and they go into the game without the suspended Darren King following his dismissal in Wednesday's draw with Warrenpoint Town.

Linfield will take on a Cliftonville team aiming to bounce back from a 5-1 trouncing by Crusaders in the north Belfast derby.

The Blues thumped Glentoran 4-0 to narrow the gap and they will go in as favourites for the Solitude encounter.

Linfield striker Andrew Waterworth bagged a hat-trick in the 4-2 home win over Cliftonville last month
Linfield striker Andrew Waterworth bagged a hat-trick in the 4-2 home win over Cliftonville last month

Third-placed Glenavon remain five points off the pace and manager Gary Hamilton is wary of in-form Institute striker Michael McCrudden ahead of the Mourneview Park game.

"We drew 3-3 with Institute a few weeks ago and it was a really hard game so this will be difficult for us," said Hamilton after a Boxing Day draw at Dungannon.

"The have Michael McCrudden, who's on fire at at the minute and I rate him very highly."

Coleraine striker James McLaughlin is suspended for the Milltown game with Warrenpoint, who are without the banned Anto Reilly.

Suspension also keeps Glentoran forward Robbie McDaid out of the Oval game against Crusaders and a Boxing Day red card for Dungannon's Seanan Clucas means he misses the basement battle with Ards.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Saturday 29 December (15:00 GMT)
Radio Ulster coverage and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website
Ballymena UnitedvNewry City
CliftonvillevLinfield
Dungannon Swiftsv Ards
GlenavonvInstitute
GlentoranvCrusaders
Warrenpoint TownvColeraine

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