With the weekend just beginning, Gareth Hanna has taken on the mantra this week to have a stab at predicting the outcome of Saturday’s five Premiership games.
Oh, and it’s Gareth’s birthday this weekend. Any fans going to Ards v Ballymena, feel free to bring cake.
Ards vs Ballymena
Starting off with the match I’ll be at, I fully expect to watch a hard-fought battle.
Ards, as they proved two weeks ago against Dungannon, are hard to beat. They came from behind three times to draw that day and Ballymena will do well to hold off that sort of fight, even if they do get ahead.
Joe McKinney will be worth a watch as always - the 22 year-old could turn into a really big Irish League name in years to come.
That said, I think Ballymena and their front two of Friel and McMurray will have too much - just about. (By the way - anybody else think those two look very similar from the stands? Just me? Alright).
Tony Kane to assist one and score a penalty. Isn’t that a given every week these days?
PREDICTION: Ards 2-3 Ballymena
Glentoran vs Portadown
Will the Manager of the Month curse bite for Gary Haveron? The Ports are fresh off the back of their 3-1 win over Ards.........they did what?....... oh, nevermind.
The Ports are still looking to get back to the much sought-after zero point mark. Having watched the Glens last week, I think Vinny Arkins’ side will have to wait at least one more week.
Haveron’s Glentoran worked so hard in the first half at Carrick last Saturday - every time they lost the ball they swarmed round the opposition to win it back - a bit like a Lidl version of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
That’ll be enough this week with Curtis Allen to get on the score-sheet again.
PREDICTION: Glentoran 2-1 Portadown
Crusaders vs Coleraine
Visitors Coleraine are unbeaten in six Premiership games and they’re just two points off second. An away win would really tighten things up at the top.
Alas, it’s hard to back against the Crues. Heatley is as close to unplayable as he has ever been. Another hat-trick maybe?
PREDICTION: Crusaders 3-1 Coleraine.
Dungannon Swifts vs Cliftonville
Dungannon have been one of my favourite sides to watch this season so far. They play cracking football - as of course do Cliftonville. On a smooth as ever Stangmore Park pitch, this one could be a real joy to watch. Glackin and Mitchell, if they turn it on, are a handful for any Irish League team and I fancy them to earn their side a third successive league draw tomorrow.
PREDICTION: Dungannon Swifts 2-2 Cliftonville.
Glenavon vs Linfield
Odds on Guy Bates to pull one out of the bag against his old side? As Roy Walker (the TV one) would say - ‘if it’s there, I’ll give you the money myself.’
Glenavon haven’t hit the heights many were predicting so far this season. Paddy McCourt has had a tough time settling into life in the Irish League but, playing centrally, has been much improved in the last two games by all accounts. You can’t help but feel he’ll pull an absolute worldy out of the bag at some stage. Unfortunately for the Lurgan Blues, I don’t think it will be this weekend. Waterworth has found his shooting boots for Linfield - I’m backing him to continue that run at Mourneview.
PREDICTION: Glenavon 0-2 Linfield