Difficult weekend for Crues and Blues

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Crusaders celebrating the winning goal against Cliftonville last week- Paul Heatley on left with goalscorer Michael Carvill

The Danske Bank Premiership's top two have a tricky weekend in mid-Ulster


Saturday sees match day 27 of 38 in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Title rivals Crusaders and Linfield both have difficult away matches in Mid-Ulster.

The Blues face Dungannon Swifts while Stephen Baxter's men are hoping to extend their seven-point lead at the top when they take on Glenavon.

The Crues have just signed Spanish striker Mikel Suarez, who's played non-league football in England and is now studying medicine at Queen's University. 

The 30-year-old says he's fit and raring to go.

Also this weekend, third-placed Cliftonville host bottom club Portadown.

Coleraine - who have moved up to fourth in the standings - are at home to Ards. 

The North Down side have been boosted by snapping up Northern Ireland under-21 midfielder or defender Josh Doherty, who had spells with Watford and Leyton Orient.

Ards boss Colin Nixon admits they have to tighten up at the back.

Ballymena entertain Carrick, who have signed striker Declan O'Brien until the end of the season after he was released by Glenavon.

Glentoran welcome Ballinamallard to the Oval.

The Mallards beat the Glens at Ferney Park in December and drew with them earlier in the season in Belfast.

So manager Gavin Dykes says he has no fear going back to the Oval.

Former Mallards striker Stephen O'Flynn scored twice last week as the Glens beat Ards 3-1.

He says Saturday will be a tough test as the east Belfast side bid for a top six place, with just seven games until the split.

The ex-Derry City man is delighted to be fit again after missing most of the season and has thanked Glentoran for bearing with him.

Some more good news for the Glens is that the Glentoran Academy were the winners of the inaugural Eastside Award for Contribution to Sport, picking up the prize at a gala ceremony in the Stormont Hotel last night. 

The Irish FA has upheld two recent decisions that were appealed by clubs involved.

Glenavon have been fined £350 for fielding the suspended David Elebert in their Boxing Day draw with Portadown.

It's confirmed the Ports get the three points.

And a six-match ban handed down to Cliftonville captain Jason McGuinness for a head-butt on Portadown's Garry Breen also still stands.

Ironically, Breen has signed a pre-contract agreement with Cliftonville and will move to Solitude next season.


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