Irish Premiership: Leaders Coleraine face Ballymena derby as Reds host Blues

Coleraine won their first seven matches in this season's Irish Premiership
Coleraine won their first seven matches in this season's Irish Premiership

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney says his table-topping side are buzzing as they prepare for Saturday's derby clash away to Ballymena United.

They dropped their first points of the season in a 0-0 draw at Glentoran last week - but played for 70 minutes with 10 men after Josh Carson's dismissal.

"I actually think it was one of our best performances of the season," said the Bannsiders boss.

"We are going well and there is a good buzz in the changing room."

Midfielder Carson will sit out the Ballymena match because of that red card at the Oval, but Kearney is in confident mood.

"Our attitude, determination and resilience at the Oval was important. If we continue to show that we'll give ourselves chances of winning games. We are happy with our form," he added.

After a poor start, Ballymena have won three of their last four in the Irish Premiership.

"Coleraine are doing phenomenally well. Oran Kearney and William Murphy are doing a tremendous job," said Sky Blues manager David Jeffrey.

"I think Oran is beginning to reap the rewards of all that patient work he did with his younger players.

"They felt they did not do themselves justice in the Irish Cup final against Linfield and I think that has spurred them on this season.

"We are getting there and our target is to consolidate a position in the top six."

Linfield's 3-1 at Solitude last April clinched them the Premiership title
Linfield's clinched the Premiership title at Solitude back in April

Reds face Blues at Solitude

With Glentoran's contest against Crusaders not taking place until Monday night, Saturday's other big game sees Cliftonville hosting Linfield in their first Solitude meeting since Andrew Waterworth's hat-trick helped clinch the Premiership title last April.

The champions have won seven of their opening eight games, with the defeat by Crusaders, their only blemish thus far.

Louis Rooney scored two goals in Linfield's 4-1 win at Warrenpoint last weekend while Joe Gormley came off the bench to net both goals in the Reds' 2-1 win at Carrick.

However, there is already 11 points between the sides are the opening eight rounds of fixtures.

Basement battles

The other two games sees the bottom four clubs in the table in opposition.

After an encouraging opening to the season, Carrick have had a miserable September with defeat by Ards starting a run of four successive defeats which has dropped them to ninth spot.

Rangers face 11th-placed Warrenpoint Town on Saturday with only two points separating the teams.

Warrenpoint were beaten 4-1 at home by Linfield last Friday but manager Matthew Tipton felt the final scoreline didn't necessarily reflect the contest.

Saturday's other basement battle sees bottom club Ballinamallard United hosting 10th-placed Ards.

Ballinmallard have suffered five straight defeats since picking up their only point to date at home to Cliftonville on 19 August.

Ards have lost six of their opening eight games although they did earn a surprise 0-0 draw against Crusaders at Seaview two weeks ago.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Game on: Preview of the Irish Premiership
Ballinamallard UnitedvArds
Ballymena UnitedvColeraine
Warrenpoint TownvCarrick Rangers