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Friday 12 Feb 2016
Danske Bank Premiership Preview

Top billing must surely go to the meeting of league leaders Crusaders - five points clear with a game in hand - and Glenavon at Seaview.

The Lurgan Blues go into the game on the back of an excellent Irish Cup victory over Glentoran last Saturday and will be looking to claim all three points to close the gap on Cliftonville in the chase for third spot.

Crusaders have had the upper hand so far this season - but only just. They won back in October thanks an early Paul Heatley strike while a Kyle Neill own goal proved to be the difference between the sides on the opening day of the campaign.

Linfield, in second place, visit Portadown.

The Blues have recorded some impressive league results of late - indeed, David Healy's side have scored no fewer than 14 goals without reply in their last four outings, while their unbeaten run stretches back to the end of November.

Portadown, on the other hand, have lost their last six Premiership games to slip down the table beyond even a potential European play-off.

However, Ronnie McFall's side will be buoyed by last Saturday's Irish Cup defeat of Coleraine - and it shouldn't be forgotten that the Ports were the last side to actually beat Linfield in league action thanks to second half goals from Chris Casement and Marcio Soares.

To add to tonight's appetising menu is the big derby at the Ballymena Showgrounds when the Sky Blues welcome Oran Kearney's Bannsiders.

Coleraine have emerged on top after all three previous meetings this season, twice in the League and once in the League Cup so Glenn Ferguson's men might fancy their chances of reversing that trend, especially since the visitors have now lost four on the bounce in all competitions.

However, United's porous defence - the worst in the league - could prove to the decisive factor once more, having shipped four goals in each of their last two outings.

Following Thursday night's 2-2 draw between Carrick Rangers and Dungannon Swifts the situation at the foot of the table has become even tighter.

The Swifts and Gary Haveron's Rangers are locked on 20 points, as are Ballinamallard United who travel to face basement boys Warrenpoint Town at Milltown.

However, despite being bottom, Barry Gray's charges are undergoing something of a revival having won their last three games amid an unbeaten run now stretching to six in the league.

Danske Bank Premiership - Friday, 12th February, 2016 (kick-off 7:45pm unless stated)
Ballymena United v. Coleraine
Crusaders v. Glenavon
Portadown v. Linfield
Warrenpoint Town v. Ballinamallard United (8pm)