2021/22 Season Review: October
COLERAINE would enjoy a successful October as they were unbeaten in their six games against two competitions…
The Bannsiders would appear on Sky Sports for the first clash in the calendar month as they were the visitors to Crusaders. The hosts had won three out of their last four contests coming into the game but the Bannsiders would take the lead after just ten minutes. A long ball forward was inadvertently flicked on by Josh Robinson into the path of Eoin Bradley who steered his effort into the bottom corner. Both teams would have chances before and after the break, however, the Stripes would double their advantage on the hour mark. A pass from Matthew Shevlin released Jamie Glackin on the left-hand side, and after his strike was tipped away by Jonny Tuffey, the ball was kept alive by Shevlin who crossed for Josh Carson to net. A good performance by Coleraine in Oran Kearney’s 450th game in charge.
Coleraine would next be in action on the Friday night as they hosted Glenavon at The Showgrounds in what would prove to be a frustrating evening for Kearney’s men. The first-half would see Glenavon twice hitting the upright, with the Bannsiders also being denied by the bar as Cathair Friel also had an effort cleared off the line. Two minutes after the break, the Stripes would be awarded a penalty after Shevlin was brought down inside the box but Stephen Lowry’s spot kick was clawed away by James Taylor. Minutes later, Friel would see another chance being cleared off the line as both teams settled for a scoreless draw.
The third round of the BetMcLean League paired Coleraine with an away trip to Carrick Rangers midway through the month. The Bannsiders would hit the front with the first chance of the game as Cathair Friel picked up possession on the right-hand side. The striker sent a delightful cross into the area and Jamie Glackin headed the ball into the path of Matthew Shevlin who prodded home from close range on 12 minutes. In truth, chances would be at a premium in east Antrim but the holders would ensure their name was in the hat for the next round as Shevlin bagged his second of the night – just as he did back in September. A throw-in was flicked on by a Carrick defender with Shevlin the quickest to react and pounce home for his eighth goal of the campaign. Stuart King’s men would be afforded a glorious opportunity to set up a grandstand finish on 90 minutes as Gareth Deane was adjudged to have fouled Emmett McGuckin inside the box. The resulting spot kick was taken by Mark Surgenor but the Coleraine stopper dived the right way to keep out his effort and preserve another valuable clean sheet.
A Saturday tea-time date with Glentoran would be next on the horizon for Coleraine in a four-goal thriller at The Oval. With 15 minutes on the clock, the visitors would go ahead in fine style as Conor McKendry’s strike from distance would nestle into the bottom corner, leaving Aaron McCarey with no chance. However, the Glens would turn the game on its head at the start of the second-half as Jay Donnelly headed home from Gael Bigirimana’s cross, before Donnelly added his second from the spot after McKendry was adjudged to have fouled Bobby Burns. The Bannsiders would draw level on 80 minutes as Lyndon Kane went on a strong run from deep, evaded two challenges and slipped the ball into the feet of Cathair Friel. The substitute would calmly roll his finish into the bottom corner for his fifth goal of the season. A subsequent melee would occur between McCarey and Burns which saw the Glens ‘keeper dismissed for lashing out at his own player as the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Coleraine would end the month with two home games starting with the visit of Warrenpoint Town. If Oran Kearney wished for a fast start, his pleas were certainly answered as a lobbed ball sent through Matthew Shevlin and he had the vision and composure to lob Conor Mitchell after just six minutes. The Stripes wouldn’t have to wait long to add to their tally after the break as Shevlin couldn’t miss for his second of the afternoon on 52 minutes. A great passage of football involving Cathair Friel and Conor McKendry saw the winger crossing for the ex-Ballymena man who fired in his tenth goal of the campaign. Just after the hour mark, Shevlin would miss a guilt edged chance to go home with the match ball as he was picked out by McKendry inside the area. The 22-year-old would take a neat first touch but his strike sailed harmlessly over the bar as Coleraine ran out 2-0 victors.
Portadown would finalise the month of October as the Bannsiders made it back-to-back wins in the Premiership as they scored a goal in each half. On a lovely afternoon at The Showgrounds, it would take until the 28th minute for the first goal to arrive as Matthew Shevlin broke the offside trap, bore down on goal and his cross was turned into his own goal by Paul Finnegan as Cathair Friel was ready to pounce. At the death, the three points would be secured as Coleraine caught the visitors on the counter attack which allowed Conor McKendry to unselfishly square the ball to Shevlin who made no mistake from inside the area.