COLERAINE would reach the final of the BetMcLean Cup for a third successive season after a nail biting penalty shoot-out win against Cliftonville, as well as securing a Boxing Day victory against Ballymena United…
The Stripes would make it back-to-back victories in the Danske Bank Premiership as Matthew Shevlin and Conor McDermott netted against Dungannon Swifts at the start of December. Oran Kearney’s side would take the lead on three minutes as a strike from Dean Jarvis could only be parried into the path of Shevlin who made no mistake from close range. Both teams would share chances as Lyndon Kane and Joe McCready went close at either end. However, the hosts doubled their advantage as McDermott burst into the box before finding the top corner for his first goal in Coleraine colours. Dungannon would have the first meaningful chance of note after the break as Rhyss Campbell tested the gloves of Gareth Deane, before substitute Ben Gallagher would see his rasping drive take a deflection and cannon off the crossbar. With ten minutes remaining, Coleraine would hit the back of the net for a third time but the linesman’s flag ruled out Michael McCrudden’s close range finish after he was picked out by Lee Lynch.
The Bannsiders would reach their third successive League Cup final after a dramatic evening in north Belfast against Cliftonville as the visitors held their nerve from 12 yards. The Reds would hit the front on 14 minutes as Ronan Hale latched onto an underhit back pass and found the back of the net, with Paddy McLaughlin’s side also going close through Jamie McDonagh and Rory Hale. After Jamie Glackin hit the crossbar from 25 yards, Coleraine got a deserved equaliser on 83 minutes as McCrudden and McDermott combined to tee up Shevlin inside the box and he made no mistake. Just two minutes into extra-time, the hosts would regain the lead as a corner kick wasn’t cleared and this allowed Odhran Casey to lash home an unstoppable effort just inside the box. However, just before the half-time whistle in extra-time, the Stripes would draw level yet again as a pin point cross by Lynch was headed into the net by Shevlin for his 16th goal of the campaign. Both teams would miss their first penalty with the resulting spot kicks all scored until Casey’s strike from 12 yards came back off the crossbar to make it a memorable win at Solitude.
The Stripes would then make it a memorable week as they picked up their third victory in six days at The Showgrounds against Crusaders. Coleraine would hit the front on 12 minutes as Josh Carson’s free-kick came back off the post with Aaron Jarvis in the right place at the right time to follow in the rebound. Stephen Baxter’s side would threaten on 55 minutes as Paul Heatley’s shot on the turn went straight into the gloves of Deane. However, the Stripes would make it 2-0 on 61 minutes as Dean Jarvis and Glackin combined to tee up Evan McLaughlin who arrowed into the back of the net.
After the match against Newry City had to be postponed due to a frozen pitch, Coleraine had to wait until Boxing Day for their next outing as they made it four wins from four in December. Kearney’s men would take a 23rd minute lead as McKendry’s ball into the box went straight into the net without a touch to make the breakthrough. Things would get even better 12 minutes later as a throw-in allowed Glackin to pick up possession inside the box and he picked out Shevlin. The striker still had so much to do as he adjusted his feet before arrowing into the back of the net via the crossbar. The second-half would prove to be a low key affair with Deane denying David McDaid, whilst at the other end, Shevlin would be denied a second after being played through one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
Player of the Month: Matthew Shevlin
Goal of the Month: Matthew Shevlin vs Ballymena United