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Match Preview

Ards test awaits Bannsiders

COLERAINE hope to remain top of the Danske Bank Premiership as they seek their sixth win in as many games as they take on Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena (KO 3pm)…

Coleraine travel to Ards with the sole purpose of maintaining their winning start to the season that has yielded maximum points from their opening five fixtures. This included last weekend’s victory over Glenavon as a brace from Darren McCauley and strikes from Josh Carson and Ciaron Harkin gave the Bannsiders a deserved victory at The Showgrounds.

The Stripes know that they will expect a stern test against Ards after two narrow wins and a draw against Colin Nixon’s men last season. In the first meeting, it took an injury time winner from Jamie McGonigle to separate the sides at the Bangor Fuels Arena.

In December, Coleraine had Brad Lyons to thank for rescuing a point at The Showgrounds after David McAllister gave the visitors a half-time lead. However, Coleraine were to earn all three points in the final meeting in January as goals from Ian Parkhill, Jamie McGonigle and James McLaughlin sealed a 3-1 win on the Ballycastle Road.

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney will be without the services of Lyndon Kane (metatarsal), Gareth McConaghie (back), David Kee (knee) and James McLaughlin (knee) for today’s fixture. However, it is hoped that the Stripes will have McConaghie and Kee back on the pitch in the coming weeks after both players returned to training. Last season’s top goalscorer, Jamie McGonigle, is expected to return to the matchday panel following international duty with Northern Ireland Under-21’s.

With his side sitting top of the Danske Bank Premiership, boss Kearney has praised his players for their efforts so far, but admits they will have ‘targets’ on their backs.

“It’s been a great start to the season,” he said.

“We have four high profile injuries and have a squad of 20 players.

“It’s a real credit to the 13 and 14 players who are fit and have carried us through pre-season and the first five games.

“We raised a few eyebrows last season and with that we are a target.

“For me the fixture against Ards will be a difficult one as Colin has recruited well in the summer and we have never had it easy down there.

“I don’t expect it to be any different on Saturday.”

As ever, those unable to attend can follow the latest updates via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).

Supporters are reminded that they can buy tickets for the club’s 90th anniversary dinner from the club shop.