Matchday Guide

Matchday Guide: Crusaders

COLERAINE are at home for the final time in the Sports Direct Premiership this season as the Bannsiders welcome Crusaders to The Showgrounds this afternoon (KO 3pm)…

Sports Direct Premiership


Coleraine extended their unbeaten run on Tuesday night as Matthew Shevlin’s late header ensured the Bannsiders left Windsor Park with a deserved share of the spoils. Oran Kearney handed a first Premiership start to 16-year-old Alife Gaston as Conor McKendry made a timely return from suspension. The Coleraine chief will also welcome back Stephen Lowry after a three-match ban.

Crusaders are one of the most in-form teams in the division as they have only lost once in their last nine Premiership contests. That run of form has propelled Stephen Baxter’s side up to 4th place in the Premiership which will guarantee home advantage in the end-of-season play-offs. It has already been confirmed that former midfielder Declan Caddell will replace Baxter in the hot-seat next season.

Previous Meetings:

The two teams met at the end of September at The Showgrounds in what would turn out to be a profitable day for the visitors. On 14 minutes, the Crues made it 1-0 through Philip Lowry as the midfielder saw his long-range strike nestle in the bottom corner following Adam Lecky’s cut back. As Coleraine made substitutions to get back into the contest, the Crues doubled their lead as Heatley headed the ball through to Ben Kennedy who ran through and calmly slotted the ball past Gallagher. The scoring would continue on 87 minutes as Lecky crossed the ball into the box that found the head of Daniel Larmour who converted from close range. The last action of the game action of match saw the Crues make it 4-0 through Jarlath O’Rourke with a strike just outside the box that flew into the top corner.

However, Coleraine would avenge that defeat by picking up all three points at Seaview in November. After a goalless first-half, Coleraine and Conor McKendry would make the breakthrough as Jamie Glackin and Andy Scott were heavily involved. The ball was worked to the in-form winger just inside the box and his near post drive fizzed into the bottom corner just ten minutes after the restart. Just before the hour mark, Andy Mitchell rolled his marker at the edge of the box and burst into penalty area but his low drive was tipped away by Johnny Tuffey. At the other end, the Stripes had Kieran Farren to thank as the big defender somehow headed the ball away from his own goal line as Paul Heatley looked certain to equalise. That intervention was even more important as the Bannsiders went further ahead on 77 minutes. A long ball forward by Dean Jarvis and was misjudged by Billy Joe Burns and latched on to by McKendry, who dribbled into the box and slotted the ball past Tuffey in the Crusaders net. On 84 minutes, McKendry almost went home with the match ball as his shot from an acute angle was palmed away by Tuffey, with Lee Lynch’s rebound being scrambled away on the line.

Last month, both teams would play out a 1-1 draw as the Bannsiders finished the contest with 10 men. After both teams would create half chances, Coleraine would take the lead from the penalty spot after Conor McKendry was brought down inside the area by Philip Lowry. The resulting spot-kick was lashed home by Josh Carson for his fifth goal of the campaign. Crusaders would make a bright start to the second-half and threatened on numerous occasions, including Ben Kennedy’s strike that cannoned off the crossbar. However, they would equalise from the spot themselves after Lyndon Kane was dismissed for bringing down Jay Boyd, with Jordan Forsythe making no mistake from 12 yards. The hosts would enjoy the lion’s share of possession and territory with the extra man but Oran Kearney’s side nearly stole all three points at the death as Jamie McGonigle’s low effort was turned around the post by Johnny Tuffey.

Manager’s Thoughts:

“Confidence has to be high, nothing to do with us – all about the players,” said Kearney.

“Out of our seven unbeaten we have played five of the top six so it’s a helluva run we’ve been on.

“The thing that pleased me driving down the road on Tuesday night was how we looked and the manner of our performance.

“I thought Jamie Glackin was right up there and that’s the bit that probably frustrates me because you just want that every single week.

“The player that exists and I think maybe he doesn’t have a concept of how good he is at times, but, by God, he was outstanding, along with quite a few others.

“He’s such an athlete, he’s so graceful, he covers the ground with such ease, but the impact he has in relation, the impact on the game on Tuesday night, I just thought everything that was good about us, particularly in the first half, came through him.”


The match referee will be Lee Tavinder.

The assistant referees are Andrew Nethery and Gavin Hegarty.

Jamie Robinson has been selected as the fourth official.


The match sponsors are Trust Ford and Store-It Self Storage.

Radio Taxis and John Marshall have also kindly agreed to sponsor the match ball.

The mascots this afternoon are Luke, Leon, Isla and Leo.

The Man of the Match award will be sponsored by Holley Optometrists.


Season tickets are valid for the fixture, although, non-season ticket holders will require matchday tickets for the fixture which can be bought online HERE.

Crusaders fans will need tickets to enter the stadium which can be purchased HERE.

The Social Club will be open from 11:30am – with football on the big screens, post-match entertainment and drink promotions.

Members of the 1973-74 title winning team will be returning to The Showgrounds as Special Guests this afternoon HERE.

Due to a good expected at The Showgrounds, we encourage both sets of supporters to arrive at the ground in good time HERE.

As ever, those unable to watch the fixture can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account.