Irish Premiership: Ballymena 'won't let up' in title race - Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew

Mulgrew lifted the League Cup after a hard-fought win over Ballymena
Mulgrew lifted the League Cup after a hard-fought win over Ballymena

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew expects Ballymena United to push his side all the way in the race for the Irish Premiership title.

The top two sides in the table meet at Windsor Park on Saturday, a week after the Blues beat them 1-0 in League Cup final at the same venue.

David Jeffrey's Sky Blues are six points behind Linfield, who have played a game more.

"Ballymena haven't let up at all from the start of the season," Mulgrew said.

"We don't expect anything to be any different between now and the end of the campaign.

"I have said many times this season that they signed very well and they are a team that typifies David Jeffrey, as I well know from his time with Linfield.

"Yes, we have won the League Cup but that has been put behind us and now we are looking forward to what is an even bigger game now on Saturday.

"It's important for us to get three points if we are to have a chance of winning the league, which we believe we can do."

Mulgrew goes into Saturday's encounter having strongly criticised referee Andrew Davey for his performance during last week's cup decider.

Ballymena skipper and former Linfield defender Jim Ervin was booked for a challenge on Mulgrew which prompted a melee involving players from both teams shortly before half-time.

Warren Feeney
Warren Feeney quit as Linfield manager in 2016 to go to Newport County

Saturday's Irish Premiership fixture list also includes an important meeting between the two bottom sides, Ards and Newry City.

Basement side Ards are three points behind 11th-placed Newry but will be hoping for a lift after the appointment this week of former Northern Ireland international Warren Feeney as manager.

Feeney replaced Colin Nixon, who was sacked last Friday after side's 3-0 loss at home by Institute - their sixth league defeat in a row.

Glentoran will be looking to recover from Monday night's home defeat by Glenavon when they travel to the Showgrounds to take on Rodney McAree's Coleraine.

Dungannon Swifts travel to Institute in search of their fourth victory in a row against a side which ended a five-game losing streak with the win over Ards.

At Milltown, 10th-placed Warrenpoint Town entertain Cliftonville, who beat Newry last week in Paddy McLaughlin's first game in charge.

Irish Premiership fixtures: Saturday 23 February
ArdsvNewry City
Coleraine vGlentoran
InstitutevDungannon Swifts
LinfieldvBallymena United
Warrenpoint TownvCliftonville