Match Preview

Derby Rights

COLERAINE welcome Ballymena United to The Showgrounds for the third derby day clash of the season (KO 3pm)…

The Bannsiders sealed a spot in the semi-final of the Tennent’s Irish Cup last time out after an enthralling 5-3 win over Larne at Inver Park. The holders trailed 2-0 and 3-2 for periods of the game but Jamie McGonigle’s clever finish ensured that the tie would go into extra-time. Coleraine took the lead via a Ben Tilney own goal, before McGonigle rifled home a delightful fifth with a superb finish to set-up a date with Crusaders at the end of the month. As for the Sky Blues, they have seen their quest for league and cup glory falter in recent weeks after defeats to Linfield in both the Danske Bank Premiership and BetMcLean League Cup final. David Jeffrey’s men will be wanting a return to winning ways after crashing out of the Irish Cup last weekend at the hands of Crusaders.

This will be the third meeting between the two sides this season and there has been very little to separate them so far. The first was back in September 2018 as Stephen O’Donnell’s late header ensured that 10-man Coleraine would earn a share of the spoils at The Showgrounds. The previous clash was on Boxing Day as United stormed back to earn a 3-3 draw as Johnny McMurray’s late effort denied Coleraine all three points.

Bannsiders boss Rodney McAree will be without the services of Lyndon Kane, Alexander Gawne and Aaron Traynor for the fixture. There is a further blow as defender Mark Edgar misses out through concussion, with Aaron Canning also an injury doubt. The Stripes did receive a boost last Friday night as Josh Carson made his return from an ankle injury. Speaking ahead of the fixture, McAree is expecting a tight battle on the Ballycastle Road.

“It’s a tough game and the fact it’s a derby makes it even tougher,” he said.

“We have to take the momentum from last Friday night into it and play to our full potential.

“Our games against Ballymena this season have been tight and I’m expecting something similar this time around.

“We have to check on a few knocks but it’s great we have a squad now.

“There are a lot of big games between now and the end of the season and it’s great to have competition for places.”

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.