COLERAINE are the first visitors to Lakeview Park in the top flight since 2007 as they face Loughgall in the Sports Direct Premiership this evening (KO 7:45pm)…
Sports Direct Premiership
Coleraine are on the road for the first time this season as they make the lengthy journey to Loughgall this evening. The Bannsiders picked up maximum points from their opening Premiership fixture as Matthew Shevlin netted twice in a 2-1 win against Ballymena United at The Showgrounds. Oran Kearney will have Aaron Jarvis back at his disposal after the midfielder completed a ban carried over from last season, whilst Lee Harkin has received international clearance and is in line to make his debut if selected.
Loughgall made a dream return to the Premiership as they banked a 3-0 success in their opening game away at Newry City. A brace of goals from Caolan Loughran – added to Nathaniel Ferris’ penalty – meant the Villagers had the job completed inside the opening 45 minutes. The win means the County Armagh side top the league standings at this very early stage. Dean Smith’s troops got promoted from the Championship last season and are competing at the top table for the first time since the 2006/07 season. Four new arrivals Alberto Baldé (Portadown), Oran Brogan (Dergview), James Carroll (Warrenpoint Town) and Caolan McAleer (Ballinamallard United) have joined the ranks so far in the summer transfer window.
The Stripes would progress to the Sixth Round of the Irish Cup thanks to a 3-1 win against Loughgall last season.
The hosts would hit the post through Matthew Shevlin after just seven minutes and despite a personal competition between Conor McKendry and Loughgall stopper Daniel Devine, it would be the visitors who would take a half-time lead as Robbie Norton crossed for Jackson Holmes to head home.
Oran Kearney’s men needed a quick response in the second-half and it duly arrived on 53 minutes as McKendry finally found a way past Devine, with Coleraine taking the lead six minutes later from the penalty spot as Shevlin kept his cool after Jamie Glackin was upended inside the box.
In a devastating 14 minute spell, the Bannsiders completed the job as Michael McCrudden was alert to a loose ball to steer an effort into the bottom corner.
Both teams would have chances before the full-time whistle as Martin Gallagher had to thwart Nathaniel Ferris, whilst at the other end, both McCrudden and Shevlin would go close to adding to their tally for the afternoon.
“We’ve said in the past that it takes you two or three games to get up and running, but it never quite feels that it’s up and running until you get that first three points,” Kearney said.
“We managed to do it last season at home to Cliftonville and we’ve done it again this season in what was a really tough encounter with all that was going on outside of the pitch in relation to the new manager, players and mindset.
“The first game of the season always has that cup final feeling, nevermind throwing a derby and all the other ingredients into it.
“I can only commend our guys. I thought they were exceptional.
“Friday night will probably be the same as you’re into that environment of Loughgall’s first home match, which they will probably feel is their real start in the league.
“That brings all its own troubles as well as we have got to be as good as we were against Ballymena so we can go and manage that scenario.”
The match referee will be Ben McMaster.
The assistant referees are Ryan Kelsey and Ken Ross.
Jamie Robinson has been selected as the fourth official.
Coleraine supporters can buy tickets for the fixture HERE.
A cash gate will also be in operation, however, buying tickets is the preferred option.
The Social Club will be open from 6pm and Coleraine supporters are warmly invited in, with a burger hut also available.
There is limited on-site parking down at bottom car park. However, if parking on road, please park on pitch side of road to allow flow of traffic through village.
Seating available in both main stands, with disabled area also in Raymond Nesbitt Stand.
As ever, those unable to watch the fixture can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).