COLERAINE travel to Solitude for the fourth time this season in all competitions as the post-split fixtures get underway this evening (KO 7:45pm)…
Danske Bank Premiership
The Bannsiders come into the fixture on the back of a scoreless draw against Larne two weeks ago – meaning Oran Kearney’s side are sixth in the Danske Bank Premiership standings. The Stripes will have to do without the services of Aaron Jarvis for the rest of the campaign after an appeal for an apparent headbutt was rejected, meaning he must serve a seven game ban. Coleraine will be on the road for three out of their five post-split games, with home games scheduled against Linfield and Larne.
Cliftonville are currently third in the table and sit seven points behind leaders Larne as the race for the Gibson Cup intensifies. Paddy McLaughlin’s side ended the pre-split fixtures with a hard fought 2-1 win at Newry City as Ronan Hale and Ryan Curran got on the scoresheet at The Showgrounds. The Reds saw dreams of Irish Cup glory come and go as they were beaten by Dungannon Swifts at the quarter-final stage.
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.
Cliftonville would be the opposition for the Bannsiders in the semi-final of the BetMcLean Cup in December. The Stripes fell behind at half-time through Ronan Hale’s effort but deservedly forced extra-time when Matthew Shevlin fired in from Conor McDermott’s cross. However, Paddy McLaughlin’s men would hit the front in first-half extra-time as Odhran Casey blasted a drive into the net after Coleraine failed to clear a corner kick. Despite that setback, Coleraine levelled for a second time as Shevlin headed home from Lee Lynch’s cross to set-up penalties. After both Lyndon Kane and Ronan Hale missed from 12 yards, every other penalty was scored apart from Casey who blazed over as Coleraine reached a third successive League Cup final.
In January, Coleraine were the visitors to Cliftonville in the Danske Bank Premiership and trailed at the break due to Ronan Hale’s long range effort. However, just before the hour mark, the Reds would stretch their advantage as Ronan Doherty’s corner kick went directly into the net. Despite that setback, Oran Kearney’s men would fightback and earned a share of the spoils after scoring two goals in as many minutes as Matthew Shevlin netted a quick fire double. The hosts would end the contest strongly but couldn’t find a way past Martin Gallagher to earn all three points.
A month later, Coleraine and Cliftonville would also be drawn together for a second successive year in the Irish Cup as Solitude hosted the Sixth Round clash. Yet again the fixture would be decided by a penalty shoot-out after the game finished 2-2 as Rory Hale and Jamie McDonagh netted for the hosts, whilst Jack O’Mahony and Stephen O’Donnell scored for the Bannsiders. However, the Stripes would pay the penalty for missed attempts from 12 yards as the Reds went through.
“They are all big games and we had a load of injuries last season, meaning we were down to the bare bones,” Kearney said.
“We didn’t pick up many points and we stumbled into the play-offs and we don’t want to do that this year.
“We want to go into a play-off with a bit of form and a few wins behind us.
“They will all be big games both home and away and it’s important we get some big performances.”
The match referee is Jamie Robinson.
The assistant referees are Stephen Donaldson and Shane Geary.
Raymond Crangle has been allocated as fourth official.
Supporters are advised that entry is via hard copy 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).