COLERAINE end the opening month of the campaign with a trip to Dungannon Swifts this evening as Oran Kearney has Jamie Glackin back at his disposal (KO 7:45pm)…
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The Bannsiders earned a point last weekend as they played out a goalless draw against Larne at The Showgrounds. In what would be a tight affair, the woodwork would be hit by each team in the second-half as Thomas Maguire’s cross clipped the top of the crossbar, whilst at the other end, Lyndon Kane’s rasping drive came back off the post. Oran Kearney will have the services of Jamie Glackin at his disposal after the midfielder completed a one-match ban, however, injury concerns remain over Martin Gallagher, Stephen O’Donnell, Stephen Lowry, Josh Carson and Matthew Shevlin.
The Swifts were beaten at home by Loughgall last weekend as Rodney McAree’s men were on the end of a 2-1 defeat. The second McAree era got off to a goal fest start as Dungannon drew 4-4 with Larne on the opening day of the season, although they have since suffered a trio of losses since then. The summer transfer window was a busy one for the Swifts as Leonel Alves (Cova de Piedade), Ethan Devine (Linfield – loan), Kealan Dillon (Warrenpoint Town), Ryan Harpur (Annagh United – player-coach), Chris Hegarty (Crusaders), Matthew Lusty (Larne – loan), Conor Mitchell (Warrenpoint Town), Niall Owens (CSU Bakersfield), Andy Whiteside (Institute) have all joined the ranks at Stangmore Park.
Coleraine and Dungannon Swifts would be no strangers last season as the two teams met each other on four occasions in both the Premiership and BetMcLean League Cup.
The first clash was in September last year and it would be a first-half to remember for the Bannsiders as they led 4-0 at the interval. The Stripes would take the lead on ten minutes as Caolan Marron netted into his own net after a dangerous pass by Jamie Glackin. In a devastating eight minute spell, Coleraine would net three times as Kieran Farren blazed in from a corner, Matthew Shevlin pounced from inside the box and Glackin put the finishing touches to a devastating counter attack. Five minutes before the end, Michael McCrudden would score his first Coleraine goal with a fine finish into the bottom corner.
At the start of November, the two clubs would be paired in the BetMcLean Cup with a semi-final spot in the competition up for grabs. The Bannsiders would hit the front after just 19 minutes when the ball was worked to McCrudden outside the box and the striker hit a crisp effort into the bottom corner. That lead would be strengthened three minutes later as wonderful ball by Conor McDermott was controlled by Shevlin who rifled into the back of the net. Both teams would see chances come and go but Coleraine would add a late third as Evan McLaughlin dribbled inside the box before firing past Declan Dunne.
Coleraine would host Dungannon as the festive fixtures got underway and it would prove to be a profitable day for the Bannsiders. Oran Kearney’s side would take the lead on three minutes as a strike from Dean Jarvis could only be parried into the path of Shevlin who made no mistake from close range. After both teams missed chances, the hosts doubled their advantage as McDermott burst into the box before finding the top corner for his first goal in Coleraine colours. After Michael Walsh would miss a guilt-edged chance for the visitors, Coleraine would see another chance come and go as Shevlin’s low effort looked certain to find the net but Mayowa Animasahun was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line. The second-half would be a more quiet affair as Ben Gallagher hit the crossbar for the Swifts, with McCrudden having a goal disallowed for offside.
The final contest was in January as Coleraine would leave Stangmore Park with all three points as a brace from Shevlin and Eamon Fyfe’s first goal for the club sealed a 3-0 win. The first half hour would be a cagey affair as Shevlin and Andy Scott both had sights of goal blocked. However, the pair would combine for the opening goal in first-half stoppage time as Shevlin fired under the body of Declan Dunne. After Scott fired into the side netting on 66 minutes, Coleraine doubled their lead as a corner kick found its way to Fyfe and the striker was in the right place at the right time to poke the ball home for his first goal since arriving from Dundela. A third goal would arrive on 89 minutes as Josh Carson centred the ball for Shevlin who rifled in his 50th for the club, with the striker being denied a hat-trick as his header clipped the post.
“It’s always a difficult place to go,” Kearney said.
“Rodney’s has had a good jaunt since he’s gone there and he’s got a lift.
“We know it’s going to be a really tough game.
“We’ve got our performance level back where we want it to be but it’s important we go and maintain that.
“I don’t know when the injured players will return and there’s no point me saying otherwise.
“They are all niggly ones which you hope will clear up soon.
“The ankle is holding Matthew Shevlin back and it’s not 100%.
“He’s such a vital player for us and I’m happy to take a hit for three or four games like we have rather than putting him out there and he keeps breaking down.
“It’s important we do it right and we have a duty of care to the players.”
The match referee will be Ian McNabb.
The assistant referees are Adam Jeffrey and Bogdan Sfirloaga.
Lee Tavinder has been selected as the fourth official.
Admission is via a cash gate only – £13 adults, £9 concessions and £1 primary school children with a paying adult.
Please note that parking around Stangmore Park is very tight, therefore, please leave with plenty of time to spare and respect nearby residents as best as possible.
As ever, those unable to watch the fixture can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).