COLERAINE have their eyes set on a third successive BetMcLean Cup final as they face Cliftonville this evening (KO 7:45pm)…
BetMcLean Cup Semi-Final
Coleraine come into tonight’s clash after picking up back-to-back wins in the Danske Bank Premiership, with the latest victory coming against Dungannon Swifts as Matthew Shevlin and Conor McDermott got on the score sheet. Oran Kearney is expected to have Jamie Glackin back from injury, as well as Josh Carson who served a suspension against the Swifts. A victory tonight would mean a third successive Cup final in the competition with Coleraine beating Dergview, Ballymena United and Dungannon Swifts so far.
Cliftonville remain firmly in the hunt for the Gibson Cup but were left to rue a 4-1 defeat to Ballymena United last weekend as David McDaid hurt his former club. The Reds are fourth in the table but have a game in hand as they chase league leaders Larne. Paddy McLaughlin’s men have beaten H&W Welders, Carrick Rangers and Newry City to get to this stage of the competition.
Coleraine and Cliftonville met on the opening day of the season at The Showgrounds with the Bannsiders looking to get off to a winning start. They certainly did that as they led by two goals at the break as Evan McLaughlin netted a quick-fire brace in front of a packed Ballycastle Road. However, Cliftonville reduced the gap as Ryan Curran headed into the back of the net from Levi Ives’ cross before they hit the woodwork through Ronan Hale’s powerful drive. After weathering that storm, Oran Kearney’s men would seal all three points at the death as Jamie Glackin’s shot went over the body of Fynn Talley.
In October, Coleraine would be home once again to the Reds but would find themselves 2-0 down inside the opening 14 minutes as Rory Hale hit a double after two defensive errors. The Bannsiders reduced the arrears at the break as Conor McKendry’s strike took a wicked deflection and went over the body of Nathan Gartside. However, early second-half pressure from Cliftonville would pay off on 62 minutes as the Reds went 3-1 ahead as a corner kick by Jamie McDonagh was headed into the net by Ryan Curran. The Stripes brought on Evan McLaughlin and James McLaughlin in a bid to get back into the contest and they pulled another goal back on 77 minutes as a terrific delivery by Josh Carson was steered into the net by Matthew Shevlin. Despite setting up a grandstand finish, the north Belfast side would leave with all three points on 89 minutes as a quick counter attack involving Chris Gallagher and Luke Turner allowed the latter to cross for Joe Gormley who headed into the back of the net.
“I think going into a big game all you’re after is a bit of form,” Kearney said.
“You can’t talk up confidence, belief or any of those things because the only thing that backs that up is how things are going on the pitch.
“We are in a good place at the minute, statistically we have a lot of clean sheets, not conceding too many chances and scoring goals.
“I have a fair idea how a League Cup semi-final on a Tuesday night at Solitude is going to look like and how tough it’s going to be.”
The match referee is Jamie Robinson.
The assistant referees are Stephen Donaldson and Paul Robinson.
Lee Tavinder has been allocated as fourth official.
Supporters are advised that entry is via tickets only 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).