BRAGGING rights and three points are up for grabs as Coleraine and Ballymena United lock horns at The Showgrounds this afternoon (KO 3pm)…
Danske Bank Premiership
Due to last weekend’s postponement, the Bannsiders haven’t been in action since December 9 where they beat Crusaders at The Showgrounds. A first-half goal from Aaron Jarvis added to Evan McLaughlin’s close range strike after the break sealed all three points against Stephen Baxter’s side. The three points meant the Stripes remained sixth in the Premiership standings, with the postponed game against Newry City pencilled in for Tuesday, January 10.
Ballymena United also saw their game against Larne called off due to a frozen pitch, meaning their last outing was a 1-0 defeat to Portadown at Shamrock Park. The Sky Blues have picked up notable victories against Crusaders and Cliftonville of late and currently sit 7th in the table. David Jeffrey’s men kick-start their Irish Cup campaign with an away clash against Carrick Rangers.
The two clubs met in the second round of the BetMcLean Cup in October. A first-half would lack any real chances of note, however, Lyndon Kane and Kenny Kane both saw opportunities come and go at either end. The second-half would see Conor Keeley being expertly denied by Martin Gallagher, whilst his opposite number Sean O’Neill saved from Conor McKendry and Conor McDermott. However, Coleraine would be given the perfect opportunity to take the lead from the spot after Matthew Shevlin was brought down inside the area which resulted in Michael Place being sent-off. The resulting penalty kick was taken by Shevlin but he was thwarted by Sean O’Neill. With extra-time looming, Coleraine finally hit the front as Jamie Glackin’s cross was turned in at the back post by McKendry.
However, United would get their own back as they registered a 2-1 victory in the Premiership ten days later. On 16 minutes, the Sky Blues would take the lead as Redman’s free-kick was guided into the net by Michael Place, with Coleraine having a goal disallowed for offside three minutes later as Matthew Shevlin tapped home from Stephen O’Donnell’s knock down. The Stripes would have another chance as Sean O’Neill saved from Glackin inside the box with David McDaid going inches away from doubling the Sky Blues’ lead at the other end. However, on 64 minutes, Coleraine did draw level as Glackin’s shot was parried by O’Neill and Shevlin was in the right place at the right time to blast the ball into the net. This gave the visitors some momentum as James McLaughlin arrowed over after being spotted by Lynch. The game would turn on its head in the final ten minutes as Conor McDermott and Adam Mullan were both dismissed for two bookable offences and United would make their numerical advantage count as Redman planted a free-kick into the bottom corner in added time. At the death, Coleraine’s day would be summed up as Lyndon Kane’s close range strike was somehow clawed away by O’Neill as the ball struck the top of the crossbar.
“The game against Newry being postponed allowed us to get back to training,” Kearney said.
“We have played a lot of games recently with not a huge amount of training, so it was nice to get a clear week and get a lot of good work in.
“The atmosphere of Boxing Day games are always brilliant, particularly the games here are super, so we are looking forward it.
“We are itching and ready for a game and hopefully we can bring that all to the table.”
The match referee will be Jamie Robinson.
The assistant referees are Adam Jeffrey and Ken Ross.
Ross Dunlop has been selected as the fourth official.
The match sponsor is Top of the Town.
Roy O’Brien has kindly agreed to sponsor the match ball.
The mascots this afternoon are Vassi, Cameron, Luca, Chloe-Anne, Lucy, Stacey, Danyl, Emily, Samuel, Daniel and Nathan.
The Man of the Match award will be sponsored by Holley Optometrists.
Coleraine supporters are advised that home tickets are SOLD OUT.
Ballymena United fans will need tickets to enter the stadium which can be purchased HERE.
Both sets of supporters are kindly asked to read the following matchday arrangements 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.
As ever, those unable to watch the fixture can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).