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Match Preview

Cup Defence

COLERAINE begin the defence of their BetMcLean League Cup trophy as they face Bangor this evening (KO 8pm)…

BetMcLean League Cup Second Round

Overview:

Coleraine made it back-to-back wins in the Danske Bank Premiership last weekend as they swooped to a 5-0 win against Dungannon Swifts. The Bannsiders led by two goals at the break through Stephen Lowry and Eoin Bradley, before Matthew Shevlin, Jamie Glackin and Ronan Wilson struck after the break. Oran Kearney’s side are the current holders of the trophy after winning the 2019/20 competition against Crusaders in the final. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the League Cup wasn’t played last season.

Bangor are currently managed by former Linfield and Rangers man Lee Feeney and they have made the perfect start to the 2021/22 campaign. The Seasiders have won their opening two Premier Intermediate League games against Tobermore United and PSNI, as well as two victories in the Steel and Sons Cup versus Islandmagee and St Lukes. There is plenty of former Irish League experience in the Bangor ranks such as Reece Neale, Mark Cooling, Ben Arthurs and Michael Halliday, amongst others.

Previous meetings:

The two sides last met competitively in the 2008/09 season in the Irish Premiership.

Marty Quinn would swap dugouts that season as he took his Bangor side to The Showgrounds on September 13, 2008. The Bannsiders would make a quick fire start as they scored two goals in as many minutes through Richard Gibson and Stephen Carson. The visitors would reduce the arrears as Nathan McConnell swept home but the three points were secured on 60 minutes via Matthew Crossan.

However, the Seasiders would comprehensively avenge that defeat two months later as they romped to a 4-0 win at Clandeboye Park. David Irvine scored the first with a right-foot shot from close range after five minutes but then Stephen Carson had a shot blocked and hit the post. Andrew Plummer saved well from Stephen Dooley and Richard Gibson before Andy Morrow fired past Davy O’Hare with a shot from just outside the box on 73. Marty Verner made it 3-0 on 76 minutes and Aaron McKee completed a convincing victory with an 86th-minute goal.

The last clash was in February 2009 on the Ballycastle Road as Coleraine aimed to increase their chances of a top six finish in the table. The Stripes would take the lead on 12 minutes on the clock as Darren Boyce exploited a missed header by Dean Youle from Davy O’Hare’s long kick to head the ball past Ryan Brown. However, Bangor began to find their way back into the game and scored an equaliser with half an hour gone as Melly skipped past Crossan before putting the ball into the box, where it was met at the back post by Nigel Boyd who headed past O’Hare. Coleraine were back in front on 65 minutes as Jody Tolan flicked on a free kick to Kyle McVey at the far post and he connected sweetly to fire it into the back of the net. The third came as Tolan released the ball for Gareth Tommons and he raced clear of the defence before calmly slotting the ball under Brown for his second goal in as many games.

Manager’s Thoughts:

“It’s been nice to hold onto the trophy for two years,” Kearney joked.

“We are the holders of the cup and it’s a competition that the majority of the squad have great memories of in relation to the experience a couple of years ago.

“We want to make sure we are through to the next round.

“Bangor are up on the crest of the wave, they’ve been down the leagues the last few seasons but there has been a lot of work behind the scenes and they are rightly back in the Premier Intermediate.

“We know they will be hungry to do well, they have missed nights like this and itching to get at it.”

Officials:

The match referee will be Ross Dunlop.

The assistant referees are Brian Wilson and Ken Ross.

Admission:

Admission will be via a cash gate with prices set at £7 adults, £4 concessions and under 16’s free.

If you are not feeling yourself this evening and you have symptoms which you feel are similar to COVID-19, please stay away from the stadium and think of others.

If you have access to a lateral flow/PCR test at home, we would encourage you to check yourself before coming to the game.

If you have been in contact with a positive case and haven’t yet been contacted by track and trace, please do not come to the game.

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