Irish Premiership: Jeffrey wary of 'resolute' Swifts side

Dungannon's Chris Hegarty shields the ball from United striker Jonathan McMurray
Dungannon defeated Ballymena in the League Cup final at Windsor Park last year

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey says his title-chasing team will have to be at their best to overcome Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds.

The Sky Blues, who trail pacesetters Linfield by one point, drew 1-1 with relegation-threatened Swifts when the sides met at the same venue in October.

"It took an absolute wonder tackle from Kofi Balmer near the end to make sure that we secured a point," said Jeffrey.

"We're going to come up against a very determined, very resolute Dungannon."

It is likely to be a more familiar United line-up on Saturday after Jeffrey made six changes for Tuesday night's Co Antrim Shield semi-final defeat by Linfield.

Dungannon bounced back from a disappointing home defeat by Ards by beating Glentoran in the Premiership and then Cliftonville in the Irish Cup at Solitude.

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Watch: Swifts peg back Sky Blues at Showgrounds

"We went there early in my reign at Dungannon and got a good point so we will have no fears," said Swifts manager Kris Lindsay.

"It will be a difficult game but our performance levels over the last two matches have been excellent, so if we can keep those levels up I fully expect us to get a result there."

The leaders take on Warrenpoint Town and boss David Healy expects a stern test as the Blues go for a fourth straight Premiership win.

Town were denied a shock victory at Windsor Park in November when Andrew Waterworth equalised with the last touch of the game.

"It will a a tough encounter - they've been on a good run of late, they are a good side and have recruited well," said Healy.

"I like Stephen (McDonnell) and I like the job that they're doing down there.

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Last-gasp Linfield rescue Warrenpoint draw

"When we drew with them earlier in the season we couldn't break them down and nearly got caught on the counter attack late on, so it will be tough."

Warrenpoint are a team in form with a New Year's Day win over Glenavon at Mourneview Park followed by an Irish Cup victory at Institute.

"We've had two big away wins and now we have another big one on the road, but we'll go there with confidence," said Town manager McDonnell.

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray remains in charge after getting the backing of the board in the wake of five straight defeats.

However, he remains under pressure as he prepares his team for a Solitude game against bottom side Ards.

Gary Smyth admitted his Glentoran team were in a relegation battle when he replaced Ronnie McFall in the Oval hotseat last week.

Gary Smyth started his Glens reign with an Irish Cup defeat by Crusaders last Saturday
Gary Smyth started his Glens reign with an Irish Cup defeat by Crusaders last Saturday

He takes charge in the league for the first time on Saturday with the Glens five points off the relegation play-off spot ahead of the visit to Institute.

Glenavon's title hopes have been hit by picking up just three points from their last four games and they make the trip to face an in-form Coleraine side.

"They're on a bit of a run of results now and they seem to have settled under Rodney (McAree)," said Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton.

"Going to Coleraine is never an easy game and we need to make sure we are on our game, our attitudes are right, we press the ball high and we make things happen and create chances."

The Lurgan Blues have received a boost before the Showgrounds game after midfielder Josh Daniel signed a two-year extension to his contract.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Saturday 12 January (15:00 GMT)
Radio Ulster coverage and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website
Ballymena UnitedvDungannon Swifts
Cliftonville vArds
Coleraine vGlenavon
LinfieldvWarrenpoint Town