Season Review


2021/22 Season Review: September

SEPTEMBER would be a profitable month for the Bannsiders as they picked up their first win in the Danske Bank Premiership, as well as continuing their defence of the BetMcLean League Cup…

After suffering back-to-back defeats in their opening two games, Coleraine knew that they needed to get back to winning ways in the Premiership. However, they knew they would have to be at their best to overcome Carrick Rangers who made a bright start under new boss Stuart King. Tensions were eased on 12 minutes as a cross into the box by Conor McKendry inadvertently turned into a shot which dipped over Neil Shields and into the back of the net as the winger celebrated his first goal since his summer switch to The Showgrounds. The Bannsiders would make a superb start to the second-half as they went two goals ahead on 48 minutes. The ball was released to Lyndon Kane on the right-hand side and his cross was missed by Mark Surgenor which allowed Matthew Shevlin to arrow an unstoppable strike into the bottom corner. On 74 minutes, the away support had a third goal to celebrate as McKendry and Lyndon Kane linked-up down the right-hand side to feed the ball into the path of Eoin Bradley. The striker looked up and sent a wonderful cross with the outside of his boot inside the area and Shevlin was on hand to prod the ball home.

A few days later, Coleraine would travel over the mountain to face neighbours Limavady United in the second round of the North-West Cup. The visitors’ starting eleven was a blend of mixture and youth as Martin Gallagher, Ronan Wilson, Aaron Jarvis, Evan Tweed, Cathair Friel and James McLaughlin started the contest, alongside several players in the club’s under-20 side. On 19 minutes, the Stripes took the lead as a great ball into the box by Wilson wasn’t cleared by United and McLaughlin was on hand to head the ball home despite the best efforts of the hosts’ defence to keep it out. The hosts would respond before the break as a corner kick delivery was headed into the net by Tiarnan Boorman. On 68 minutes, the Lims would take the lead as a fantastic ball over the top of the Coleraine defence allowed Alex Pomeroy to break the offside trap and go through on goal. The ex-Institute striker composed himself before rolling a smart finish into the bottom corner. The Stripes went in search of a much needed equaliser and the woodwork would prevent them from doing so on two occasions. The first was on 76 minutes as a cross into the box by Lewis Tosh was latched onto by Friel but his header smashed against the post, with the crossbar being left shaking minutes later as Kirk McLaughlin’s lob hit the upright. At the death, Limavady – who were beaten finalists in last year’s competition – would secure their name in the last four as the energetic Pomeroy closed down a defensive clearance with the ball going straight into the back of the net.

A third trip of the week meant Coleraine would lock horns with Dungannon Swifts in the Premiership in what would turn out to be a five-star showing by the Stripes. Despite the home side making a better start, Eoin Bradley chased down a long ball to find Lyndon Kane on the right-hand-side. The full-back delivered an inviting ball into the box that was headed into the net by Stephen Lowry for his first goal of the campaign. On the stroke of half-time, the Bannsiders would double their lead as Jamie Glackin slipped the ball into the path of the onrushing Conor McKendry. The speedy winger steadied himself onto his favoured left foot and after his shot was tipped away by Alex Moore, the ball presented itself to Bradley who couldn’t miss from close range. The second-half started like the first ended as the visitors found the back of the net for a third time on 50 minutes. A ball forward by Aaron Traynor was controlled by Bradley who had the vision to pick out Shevlin and the striker did the rest for his fifth goal of the season in all competitions. After Gareth Deane saved a Joe McCready penalty, Coleraine would have even more reasons to celebrate as they slotted home a fourth goal of the afternoon. A mix-up in the Dungannon defence allowed Glackin to drive forward and he picked his spot with a clever finish into the bottom corner. Kearney brought on Curtis Allen and Ronan Wilson and the pair would combine for the Bannsiders’ fifth goal. A missed place pass was seized upon by Allen and he threaded a pass through to Wilson who calmly slotted home his first strike since moving to the club from Cliftonville.

Coleraine would kick-start their defence of the BetMcLean League Cup with a trip to the seaside to face Bangor. The Bannsiders were big favourites to reach the third round of the competition and they made sure there was no potential shock as they netted four times in a devastating first-half. Two of those goals were from Cathair Friel who arrowed under the body of the goalkeeper as well as converting from the spot, before Conor McKendry and Evan Tweed also got in on the act. The second-half was a more quiet affair, however, Friel would ensure he would go home with the match ball with an instinctive finish on 74 minutes.

The National Stadium would come calling next for Coleraine as they made the way to face reigning champions Linfield at Windsor Park. A goalless first-half would see the Stripes having the majority of the chances as Aaron Traynor, Conor McKendry and Matthew Shevlin all threatened. In a game that needed a goal, it duly arrived on 64 minutes for the Blues as Stephen Fallon played a delightful ball into the path of Christy Manzinga and the Frenchman had the vision and composure to lob the ball over an advancing Gareth Deane. Oran Kearney’s men stayed in the game and bagged a spectacular equaliser with five minutes to go as Cathair Friel played the ball into the feet of McKendry who let fly from distance that gave Chris Johns no chance.

The installation of the 4G pitch would be completed for the end of September as derby rivals Ballymena United were the visitors to the Ballycastle Road. In a tight opening half hour, Coleraine would edge in front as Aaron Traynor’s cross into the box wasn’t cleared by United which allowed Matthew Shevlin to bag against his former employers. A second goal was needed to settle matters and it was well worth the wait. A long ball forward found Eoin Bradley and the striker used his strength before unleashing an unstoppable left foot strike that left Jordan Williamson with no chance. The icing on the cake would arrive on 83 minutes as Conor McKendry picked out Stephen Lowry inside the box and the midfielder’s cross was stabbed home by Cathair Friel for his first goal at The Showgrounds.