COLERAINE would be unable to add the BetMcLean Cup to their collection as they were beaten by Linfield in the final but they would record a derby day win against Ballymena United…
The month would start with a derby day clash against Ballymena United on the Ballycastle Road. With little over half an hour played, the hosts would take the lead on 31 minutes as Jamie Glackin picked up the ball inside the box and showed neat footwork before nestling a shot into the bottom corner. However, the lead would be quickly distinguished as the visitors equalised just three minutes later. A strong run forward by Robbie McVarnock allowed the ball to reach the path of Josh Kelly and the midfielder arrowed a strike beyond the reach of Gareth Deane. A ten minute spell would see a third goal of the evening just before half-time as Glackin was yet again involved. The midfielder would pick out Conor McKendry inside the box and the ex-Larne man would do the rest by cheekily lobbing the ball over the advancing Jordan Williamson. On 54 minutes, Coleraine would stretch their lead with Glackin yet again influential. A passage of play involving Dean Jarvis and Matthew Shevlin allowed Glackin to cross the ball into the front post where Josh Carson was in the right place at the right time to find the back of the net. Oran Kearney’s side would spurn a glorious chance to extend their advantage even further as they won the ball high up the pitch which led to a three-on-one attack. A perfectly timed pass allowed Lyndon Kane through on goal but he was denied by the body of Williamson.
The final of the BetMcLean Cup would be up next as Coleraine went in search of going one better than last year’s defeat in the same competition. After a goalless first-half, Linfield would open the scoring not long after the interval. After some great play by Chris McKee, the attacker eventually slipped through Joel Cooper through on goal against Deane. The winger remained cool and slotted a well finished left footed effort into the bottom corner to claim his 10th goal of the season in the 49th minute. Despite the Bannsiders’ good response, danger struck in the 59th minute. Captain Stephen O’Donnell attempted to clear the ball before assist provider of the first goal McKee nipped in just in front of him to claim the ball with O’Donnell claiming the man. Referee Lee Tavinder was left with no choice and a penalty was awarded. Chris Shields took the resulting spot kick and sent Deane the wrong way by slotting the ball into the middle of the net to put Linfield 2-0 up in the 60th minute. The Bannsiders unfortunately couldn’t create any more clear goal scoring chances for the remainder of the game as Linfield lifted the trophy for a record 11th time.
A trip to Glenavon would be on the calendar next and it would be a tale of two halves at Mourneview Park. The Stripes would take the lead on 26 minutes as Glenavon goalkeeper Rory Brown slipped and lost possession on the by-line. The ball was picked up by Andy Scott who tapped into an empty net for his first Coleraine goal. Gary Hamilton’s side made a bright start to the second-half and threatened three times within the first seven minutes. The first would see Conor McCloskey head into the gloves from Isaac Baird’s cross, before Danny Wallace saw a goal bound effort being deflected wide after McCloskey’s free-kick was parried by Deane. Minutes later, a corner kick by Aaron Rogers met Jamie Doran at the back post but his shot was cleared off the line by ex-Glenavon man O’Mahony. After Shevlin would see a goal bound effort blocked, Glenavon were continuing to pile men forward and grabbed an equaliser on 69 minutes. A cross into the box by Aaron Prendergast met Matthew Fitzpatrick who found the back of the net with a well-taken scissor kick. This would galvanise the hosts who would then go ahead with just six minutes remaining as Fitzpatrick laid the ball into the path of substitute Michael O’Connor who made no mistake with a crisp finish. The Bannsiders would threaten late on as Shevlin headed over from Lynch’s cross but they would fall to a defeat as they still go in search for a first victory against the Lurgan Blues since March 2020.
A visit of league leaders Larne ended the month as the Coleraine rearguard held firm to record a scoreless draw. Coleraine would have the majority of the chances in the first-half as Aaron Jarvis, Dean Jarvis and McKendry all went close, whilst at the other end, Deane dived to keep out Andy Ryan’s attempt. However, the game would turn on 65 minutes as Aaron Jarvis received a straight red card for an off the ball incident involving Micheal Glynn. With the man advantage, Larne would turn the screw and Deane would be busy late on as he expertly tipped over Joe Thomson’s goal bound effort, before producing a remarkable double save to deny Thomas Maguire in stoppage time.
Player of the Month: Gareth Deane
Goal of the Month: Jamie Glackin vs Ballymena United