Irish Premiership: Ballymena will make it tough - Baxter

Crues midfielder Jamie Glackin gets a nudge from Sky Blues defender Kofi Balmer
Crues midfielder Jamie Glackin gets a nudge from Sky Blues defender Kofi Balmer

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter is expecting a stern test from Ballymena United as the teams aim to build on winning their Premiership openers.

The champions defeated Ards 4-2 while Ballymena secured an impressive 2-0 victory at Dungannon Swifts.

"We always get a tough game against Ballymena," said Baxter.

"They have a new-look team - David Jeffrey has bought very wisely from around the league and they will bring a lot to the party."

He added: "We expect no favours. We have to look after ourselves, we are at home and we need to be on top of out game again."

The Sky Blues got their campaign off to the perfect start and Jeffrey is relishing taking on the Crues.

Strength in depth

"There are most impressive - league champions who have strengthened again," said the United manager.

"They have a big and healthy squad while they are taking the bold move of going full-time, which they should be applauded for.

"For us it's a challenge we look forward to. I just ask my players to give their best and we will see what our best is against the champions."

Coleraine and Cliftonville also won their opening games and they meet at Solitude in a repeat of May's Irish Cup final.

Matthew Kirk will be missing for Coleraine after the teenage midfielder joined Championship side Dergview on loan until January.

Glentoran have received a boost ahead of their away encounter against Ards with the signing of Joe Crowe.

Joe Crowe has left Linfield to join Belfast rivals Glentoran
Joe Crowe has left Linfield to join Belfast rivals Glentoran

The 20-year-old, who can play in midfield or defence, spent the second half of last season with Linfield.

"Joe asked to leave Linfield despite having two years on his contract because he didn't think he'd feature enough this season and he wants to establish himself at Premiership level here," Glens boss Ronnie McFall told the club website.

"He's a holding midfielder or centre back and the sort of player we need - confident, hardworking and he'll bring a physical presence and aggression in an area where we need it."

Warrenpoint Town take on Glenavon at Milltown with both sides targeting their first points of the 2018/19 season.

Danske Bank Premiership - Saturday 11 August (15:00 BST)
Live radio and text coverage on the BBC Sport website
ArdsvGlentoran
CliftonvillevColeraine
CrusadersvBallymena Utd
Warrenpoint TownvGlenavon