Match Preview

Bannsiders seeking home comforts for the final time this season

COLERAINE welcome derby rivals Ballymena United to The Showgrounds tomorrow afternoon for the final home game of the season (KO 3pm)…

The Bannsiders now trail Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership on goal difference after last weekend’s dramatic comeback against Cliftonville. After being behind for the majority of the game, Coleraine levelled through Stephen Dooley’s smart finish before Jamie McGonigle tucked away a last minute penalty to seal all three points. As for Ballymena, they will be seeking their first points from the league split after recent defeats to Cliftonville and Linfield.

This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season with the Stripes winning two and the other ending in a draw. The first fixture was in September as Coleraine ran out worthy 2-0 winners on Warden Street via goals from Stephen O’Donnell and Jamie McGonigle. On Boxing Day, McGonigle would strike again but Kyle Owens’ deflected header gave David Jeffrey’s side a deserved share of the spoils. Then, last month, goals from Eoin Bradley and Darren McCauley separated the sides in Ballymena.

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney will assess the injury sustained last week to Brad Lyons as the midfielder had to be withdrawn late in the second-half against the Reds. This means James McLaughlin is the only absentee and Kearney has challenged his players to replicate the second-half performance against Cliftonville.

“They will come here to try and put a dent in our title challenge but our agenda is far higher than theirs,” Kearney said.

“Yes it’s a derby and everything that goes with it, but we have to match the intensity that we produced in the second-half against Cliftonville and make sure we get the job done.

“A month ago the gap at the top was five points and every football expert in this country had us written off like they’ve done all season.

“We will die at Halloween, we will die at Christmas and Crusaders have the knowhow.

“All we have worried about is taking care of the next game of football and it has served us well up to this point.”

As ever, those unable to attend the fixture can follow the latest updates via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC). Supporters are reminded that entry into the ground is strictly via matchday cards/season tickets only.

Furthermore, the Club Shop will be open from 9am for Irish Cup ticket sales HERE.