COLERAINE would win yet again in the BetMcLean Cup during November as Oran Kearney’s men recorded a precious away win at Larne…
The first match in November would be in the BetMcLean Cup as Coleraine welcomed Dungannon Swifts to The Showgrounds at the quarter-final stage of the competition. The breakthrough would arrive early in the first-half as a fine pass by Lee Lynch released Michael McCrudden inside the box and he found the back of the net. On 22 minutes, the advantage was doubled as a trademark pass by Conor McDermott set Matthew Shevlin through on goal and the in-form striker made no mistake by comfortably dispatching past Declan Dunne. The hosts would have a third goal to celebrate in added time as substitute Evan McLaughlin cut in from the right-hand side and found the bottom corner to set-up a last four clash with Cliftonville.
The next day, Coleraine U19’s faced KRC Genk in the second leg of their UEFA Youth League second round, knowing they were playing for pride after a 4-0 defeat at home. The hosts started where they left off as they showed their intent early doors as Deniz Arabaci had an effort turned around the post by Billy McDowell. However, from the resulting corner kick, Genk took the lead as Raf Smekens got a vital touch to steer the ball home. A touch of class from the Belgians would see them doubling their lead as a clever ball from Sam De Grand found the run of Thomas Claes and the midfielder rifled an effort into the top corner. After Arabaci blazed over the crossbar, the same player would make it 3-0 on 35 minutes as the winger danced into the box before sending the ball beyond the reach of McDowell and into the bottom corner. Just before the half-time whistle, Genk would add a fourth as a lovely combination between Rotundo and Sami Sakkali allowed the latter to blast the ball into the net from close range. However, Coleraine were more competitive after the break and grabbed a consolation goal on 69 minutes as good set-up play by Zac Dealey allowed Jack Patton to fire home. On 85 minutes, Arabaci would grab his second of the afternoon and in fine style. The Belgian youth international received the ball from an acute angle and did the rest as he fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner. A cruel late sixth would arrive for the hosts as a cross into the box was headed back by Reece Watton who misjudged the direction of the ball as it went into the net for an own goal. A difficult afternoon for the Bannsiders but a European campaign filled with plenty of hope and promise for the future.
The Bannsiders would return to Premiership duty as they faced a tricky assignment away at Carrick Rangers. On 19 minutes, the hosts would threaten as persistence from David Cushley presented the ball to Lloyd Anderson inside the box and he fired over from close range. Soon after, the ball would hit the back of the net as Cameron Stewart headed in from a corner, but thankfully for Coleraine, the goal was disallowed for an infringement in the box. On the stroke of half-time, the Bannsiders had Gareth Deane to thank as the stopper somehow tipped Kyle Cherry’s shot over the bar. Oran Kearney’s men were much improved after the break and threatened on several occasions as Carson, McDermott, Mullan and Lynch all went close to finding the back of the net. However, the breakthrough would arrive on 82 minutes as a ball forward wasn’t dealt with by the Carrick defence and Carson’s turn and shot found the top corner.
The Stripes failed to make it four wins on the trot in all competitions as two first-half goals by Crusaders ultimately did the damage. The Bannsiders would fall behind after just 47 seconds when a poor defensive header was seized upon by McCauley Snelgrove who blasted an effort into the bottom corner. To make matters worse, Coleraine would concede a second after 14 minutes on the clock when Adam Lecky burst into the box and cut the ball back for Jude Winchester. The midfielder had the precision to find Philip Lowry inside the area and he picked his spot beyond a helpless Deane. Kearney’s men needed a response before the break and it arrived in fortunate circumstances on 39 minutes as corner kick by Lynch was headed towards goal by Stephen O’Donnell, with the ball taking several deflections before finding the back of the net. On 66 minutes, Coleraine would have another opportunity as substitute Evan McLaughlin teed the ball up for Shevlin at the edge of the box but his low drive was parried by Tuffey and cleared to safety. Oran Kearney brought on James McLaughlin with 15 minutes to go and the striker almost made an instant impact as his half volley forced Tuffey into a low smart save as Crusaders held on for a 2-1 success.
The month would continue as Coleraine recorded back-to-back scoreless draws against Glentoran and Glenavon. The fixture against in-form Glentoran would see Mick McDermott’s side going close through Danny Purkis and Shay McCartan in each half, whilst Shevlin would hit the post for Coleraine and Lyndon Kane blazed over the bar from a cut back. At Mourneview Park, Coleraine would start the brighter as Aaron Jarvis, McCrudden and Carson all had sights of goal. However, Gary Hamilton’s side would be left wondering how they didn’t bag all three points as Kieran Farren twice had to clear the ball off the line as Matthew Snoddy, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Eoin Bradley – all former Coleraine players – missed several opportunities to make the breakthrough.
After Andy Law was dismissed as Limavady United manager, the Roesiders would come calling for Paul Owens once again. The first-team coach joined the Bannsiders’ backroom staff at the beginning of the 2018/19 campaign, but the lure of returning back to his hometown club would be too much to turn down as he was appointed as manager for a second time.
Coleraine would finish November with an away contest at high flying Larne, who had failed to be beaten at Inver Park so far during the campaign. However, the Bannsiders would pick up an important three points through goals from Matthew Shevlin and Conor McKendry. The Stripes would take the lead after just four minutes on the clock as a delivery into the box by McKendry was headed into the net by Shevlin. On the half hour mark, Coleraine would have Deane to thank as the stopper made a great save to tip Lee Bonis’ well driven effort over the crossbar. After Shevlin would see a one-on-one opportunity come and go, the Bannsiders would double their advantage in first-half stoppage time as McKendry played a neat one-two before lashing an effort beyond the reach of Rohan Ferguson. Oran Kearney’s men would have the first two chances after the break as McKendry and Shevlin both went close, whilst at the other end, Deane would have to dive to his right to keep out Ben Doherty’s free-kick.
Player of the Month: Kieran Farren
Goal of the Month: Conor McKendry vs Larne