COLERAINE get September off to a mouth-watering clash as they face Linfield at The Showgrounds this afternoon (KO 3pm)…
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Coleraine will be licking their wounds after last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Dungannon Swifts as the Stripes led by two goals heading into second-half stoppage time. However, two late strikes by the Swifts would stun Coleraine who are now 6th in the Premiership table. The Stripes were quiet in the latter stages of the transfer window, with Luca Doherty joining Limavady United on loan until the end of the season as Ronan Wilson sealed a permanent switch to H&W Welders.
Linfield have won four and drawn one out of their five Premiership contests so far this season. The latest result was a 3-3 draw against Carrick Rangers as Danny Purkis netted a late equaliser for the Amber Army at Windsor Park. The Blues were busy in the summer transfer window as Euan East (Queen of the South), Daniel Finlayson (St Mirren), Matthew Fitzpatrick (Glenavon), Darragh McBrien (Dungannon Swifts), John Robertson (FC Edinburgh) and Jack Scott (Wolves) all joined David Healy’s side.
The two clubs would meet a total of five times in all competitions as Linfield won three and the other two ending in draws.
It would be a case of the defences at The Showgrounds as neither side went close to breaking the deadlock at The Showgrounds back in October last year. In front of a full capacity, the first chance would fall at the feet of Conor McDermott but the full-back’s strike was easily gathered by Chris Johns. After Joel Cooper flashed a free-kick inches wide, the Blues would spurn the chance of the game on the stroke of half-time as Stephen Fallon headed over from Kirk Millar’s cross. With less than a minute of the second-half played, Coleraine would threaten as Josh Carson’s free-kick forced Johns into a save before Jamie Glackin failed to find the target from 25 yards. The final opportunity of the contest would be created by Linfield as Cooper teed up Fallon but his effort fizzed wide.
Similarly, the two teams would start 2023 with a goalless draw at Windsor Park. Linfield would have all the opportunities in the first-half as Eetu Vertainen headed wide from Jamie Mulgrew’s cross, with Martin Gallagher called into action to tip Daniel Finalyson’s header over the bar soon after. The final chance of the opening 45 minutes would land at the boot of Joel Cooper but the winger’s attempt was comfortably saved by Gallagher. David Healy’s men would go close on 53 minutes as Vertainen once again saw a header go off target, with the Finnish striker being frustrated later on as he was denied by Gallagher with a smart save. Coleraine – who had plenty of possession but lacked a killer pass – would create the final two chances of the game as debutant Eamon Fyfe hit a free-kick straight into the gloves of Chris Johns, before the same player would see a shot on the turn go over the crossbar.
At the end of February, Coleraine would visit Windsor Park once again in Danske Bank Premiership duty. The hosts would be awarded a penalty on 13 minutes as Dean Jarvis was adjudged to have handled inside the box, allowing Chris Shields to keep his composure to send Gareth Deane the wrong way from 12 yards. Just after Daniel Finlayson headed wide, the Stripes would end the half strongly as Chris Johns made a sublime save to deny Jamie Glackin after he was picked out by Jack O’Mahony. Linfield would go further ahead on 50 minutes as Matthew Clarke was denied by a superb stop by Deane, however, the ball would land at Eetu Vertainen who had the simple task of finding the back of the net. It wasn’t to be Finlayson’s day as the defender smashed the woodwork with a header, with Coleraine threatening late on through Michael McCrudden.
The two teams would also meet in the final of the BetMcLean League Cup as the Bannsiders lost a second successive decider in the competition. After a goalless first-half – which the Stripes shaded – they would fall behind early in the second-half as Joel Cooper found the bottom corner after being picked out by Chris McKee. A few minutes later, the Blues would double their tally from the spot as Chris Shields kept his composure from 12 yards after McKee had been brought down inside the box. In truth, Coleraine never really looked like getting back into the game as they lost 2-0 at Windsor Park.
Finally, in the post-split fixtures in April, a solitary goal from Niall Quinn three minutes from time would see the Blues leave The Showgrounds with all three points. The first-half would belong to the visitors in terms of chances as Matthew Clarke, Eetu Vertainen, Kirk Millar and Chris McKee all went close to breaking the deadlock. However, the Stripes would see the greater attacking threat after the interval as Andy Scott forced Chris Johns into a world class save, with Conor McKendry also testing the ex-Coleraine stopper. Despite the hosts looking like netting first, Linfield would secure the win on 87 minutes as Kyle Lafferty’s cross wasn’t cleared which allowed Quinn to drill the ball into the back of the net under a sea of bodies.
“We’ve won a couple of games 2-1 this season and because it’s 11 vs 11 and there’s a few minutes left, we’re very game smart and aware of the scenario we find ourselves in,” Kearney said after the 2-2 draw against the Swifts.
“I think because they were down to 10-men for so long, even when they pulled it back, we still had that laissez-faire feeling of we can go and score a third here and have a gamble.
“Whereas for me, the alarm bells for me was that you really revert back to making sure that you’ve that mindset of going to the corner, winning a free-kick, a throw-in, or whatever it might be.
“We’ve a few out at the this moment in time and hopefully we’re starting to move towards getting a few of those back.
“All teams will have that during the season, it’s part and parcel of football.
“It gives people opportunities and people have to grab those opportunities.”
The match referee will be Lee Tavinder.
The assistant referees are Stephen Donaldson and Stephen Bell.
Gareth Stewart has been selected as the fourth official.
The match sponsor is TBF Thompson Group.
Des Cooper, Cynthia Williamson, Gary Anderson and Paul McPeake have kindly agreed to sponsor the match ball.
The mascots this afternoon are Conor, Evan and Jude.
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.
Linfield fans will need tickets to enter the stadium which can be purchased HERE.
The Social Club will be open from 11:30am – with drink promotions on offer from 1:30pm until kick-off and then from 5pm to 7pm.
Due to a large crowd 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 (@ColeraineFC).