Match Preview

Bannside Debut

RODNEY McAree will take charge of Coleraine for the first time tomorrow afternoon as the Bannsiders lock horns against Linfield at The Showgrounds (KO 3pm)…

The Stripes would feel frustrated last weekend as the crossbar and excellent goalkeeping prevented them from earning all three points against Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena. As for the visitors, they come into tomorrow’s clash top-of-the-table after defeating Dungannon Swifts at the National Stadium. David Healy’s side have taken 17 points from their opening seven fixtures and are five points ahead of Coleraine, who have a game in hand.

The two sides met each other on four occasions last season and there was very little to separate the sides. The first clash was marred with controversy as Jamie McGonigle’s goal was adjudged to have crossed the line in a 2-1 win at The Showgrounds. In November, a poor first-half was the catalyst in a 2-1 loss which still remains the last time that the Irish Cup holders have lost a domestic game. The Bannsiders were left feeling disappointed with a 2-2 draw in January after leading 2-0 with five minutes to go, with the last meeting also ending 2-2 as Darren McCauley’s brace ensured the title race would go down to the final day.

Stripes boss Rodney McAree will be without the services of Lyndon Kane and James McLaughlin. There will also be a late fitness test for Gareth McConaghie (hip) and Josh Carson (knee) ahead of the clash between the unbeaten sides.

Ahead of his managerial bow on the Ballycastle Road, McAree revealed that big clashes against Linfield and Ballymena United was just one of the reasons why he took the job.

“Those are the games that when you get the chance to manage Coleraine, you automatically want to get involved with.

“I’d go and watch big games whenever I got the chance and I’ve always had a burning desire to be involved with them.

“I’ll look forward to the Linfield game as it’s first and foremost.

“I get the sense of the atmosphere in the changing room in terms of leaders, winners and desire to do well is there to be seen.

“It wasn’t ideal to leave here today with a point but we build on the clean sheet and the fact we created so many chances.

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

Supporters are reminded that entry is via matchday cards/season tickets only.

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