COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney takes his side to face Dungannon Swifts managed by his brother-in-law Dean Shiels tomorrow afternoon (KO 3pm)…
Danske Bank Premiership
Coleraine collected their first three points of the season last weekend as goals from Conor McKendry and Matthew Shevlin (2) sealed a 3-0 win against Carrick Rangers. The Bannsiders were also in action in midweek as a blend of youth and experience made the trip to Limavady United in the North-West Cup, but they were beaten 3-1 by Andy Law’s side.
The hosts have only played one game in the Danske Bank Premiership so far this season due to international call-ups and they were beaten by Glentoran on the opening day of the season. However, Dean Shiels’ side started their Mid-Ulster Cup campaign last Tuesday as goals from Corey Smith (2), Caolan McAleer, Joe McCready and James Convie (2) meant they comfortably progressed against Moneyslane. The Swifts have been busy adding to their squad with the arrivals of Alex Moore (loan), Michael Quinn, Luke McKendry, Keith Cowan, Aaron Canning (loan), Michael Glynn (loan), James Knowles, Darragh McBrien, Sean McCarron and Joe McCready.
The two clubs met on three occasions last season with Dungannon Swifts winning the first before the Bannsiders pocketed six points from the next two games.
The first meeting was in December as Kearney’s side made the trip to Stangmore Park on the back of three straight defeats. Things got off to a bad start as Michael Carvill broke the deadlock on 15 minutes with a finish into the bottom corner. Despite Coleraine having a lot of the ball, they failed to overly trouble Swifts ‘keeper Sam Johnston in either half and they left empty handed as Rhyss Campbell blasted home a second.
A month later, the pitch at The Showgrounds would pass a pre-match pitch inspection as the cold weather descended on the North Coast. After making a bright start to proceedings, the Stripes would hit the front on eight minutes as Aaron Jarvis powered home a header from Jamie Glackin’s cross. The Swifts – who didn’t create any meaningful chances in the opening 45 minutes – were the opposite in the second as Ben Gallagher and Rhyss Campbell both missed efforts from close range to find an equaliser. At the other end, debutant Matthew Shevlin would send a header over the bar, before having another header ruled out for offside. However, the three points were secured in spectacular fashion as Bradley let fly from 25 yards that sailed over Johnston and into the back of the net.
The final fixture of the season would prove to be a five goal thriller in March as there were five goals, memorable strikes, a red card and a penalty kick. The deadlock was broken on 18 minutes as Curtis Allen robbed the ball off Oisin Smyth and played in Jamie Glackin. The midfielder put the ball onto his left foot and his strike deflected off Callum Byers and over the head of Roy Carroll. However, despite offering little threat going forward, the hosts responded as Smyth picked up the ball at the edge of the box and sent in an inviting cross which was headed home by former Coleraine striker Rory Patterson. The second-half started with a penalty being awarded to Coleraine as Carroll was adjudged to have made contact with Allen before punching the ball clear. The responsibility was given to Doherty who rifled home his third penalty in two games. With new manager Dean Shiels watching on from the sidelines, the Swifts responded in fine style as Dougie Wilson’s long range free-kick gave Gareth Deane no chance to level the scores once again. There would be added drama on 62 minutes as referee Keith Kennedy sent Oisin Smyth off for a late tackle on Evan Tweed. After Allen had another effort ruled out for offside, the Bannsiders would take the lead once again as Glackin, Carson and Bradley all combined to tee up Doherty who hit a sensational strike into the top corner. At the death, the visitors would survive a goal mouth scramble as Stephen Lowry was on hand to clear Michael Carvill’s shot off the line.
“There are lots of different ways you can look at it, with us having played two games by the time Dungannon played their last league against Glentoran,” Kearney said.
“We’ve started the season with a three game week and a tough week.
“Some of the lads played on Tuesday night in the NW Cup but the majority didn’t, so we’ll try and freshen up again this week.
“We got good time in the legs over the last two weeks, we’re out the other side of it and hopefully we’ll see the benefit of it.
“It’s a good surface and I know the way Dean likes to play.
“I know he’s put a lot of work in over the summer to try and implement that.
“We know it will be a different animal we’re going down to there so it’s important we go there and hit the same standards as we did against Carrick Rangers.”
The match referee will be Lee Tavinder.
The assistant referees are John Doherty and Ken Ross.
Declan Hassan has been allocated as the fourth official.
Coleraine supporters will require tickets for the fixture which can be bought online HERE.
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).