COLERAINE will hope to earn the derby day bragging rights as the two sides lock horns for potentially the final time this season (KO 3pm)…
The Bannsiders made sure they wouldn’t suffer a fourth successive defeat as midfielder Ben Doherty struck late to earn Coleraine a deserved share of the spoils against Glenavon last weekend. As for the Sky Blues, they were held to a 1-1 draw against Cliftonville at Solitude, but know positive results in their last three games will ensure qualification for the Europa League.
This will be the fourth time the two sides have clashed and Ballymena will hope to replicate their emphatic win the last time both clubs clashed. The Stripes were reduced to ten men in the first-half and fell behind to Andy McGrory’s close range header, before Adam Lecky controversially added a second. David Jeffrey’s troops secured all three points after the interval as McGrory completed his hat-trick. The opening two games were draws as Coleraine were reduced to ten men in each of those two games, with the first contest ending 2-2 on the Ballycastle Road, before the enthralling 3-3 draw on Boxing Day.
Coleraine boss Rodney McAree will be without the services of Lyndon Kane, Aaron Traynor, Stephen Lowry, Aaron Burns and Alexander Gawne through injury. There is a blow to the defensive unit as Gareth McConaghie sits out the final game of his two-match ban, with Adam Mullan also suspended for two matches after accumulating ten yellow cards. There were positive returns to the first-team squad for Josh Carson and Jamie Glackin against the Lurgan Blues last weekend.
With the European play-off fixtures on the horizon, McAree wants his players to pick up some momentum.
“We want to win games, we want to get as many points as we can between now and the end of the season going into the play-offs,” he said.
“Ballymena is going to be tough, they’ve had a fantastic season but we’ve done reasonably well against them in the first two matches this season.
“The third match was disappointing so we owe ourselves a performance coming out of it.”
As ever, those unable to attend can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).