Matchday Guide: Cliftonville
COLERAINE and Cliftonville play for the fourth time this season as both teams lock horns at Solitude this afternoon (KO 3pm)…
Danske Bank Premiership
The Bannsiders made it eleven games unbeaten in all competitions last weekend as they beat Portadown at The Showgrounds. After falling behind to Greg Moorhouse’s close range effort, Coleraine would manage to recover to led 3-1 at the break as Rodney Brown, Matthew Shevlin and Conor McKendry all found the back of the net. The three points would be clinched with just little over an hour played as Michael McCrudden found the back of the net from close range with boss Oran Kearney handing a debut to Andy Scott following the winger’s move from Larne.
Cliftonville are currently the league leaders and are unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions. Paddy McLaughlin’s men come into the contest after a 3-3 draw against Carrick Rangers last Friday night as Lloyd Anderson netted a last gasp equaliser for the Amber Army. The Reds have added Gerard Doherty and David Parkhouse to their squad in the January transfer window, with the two clubs also scheduled to face each other in the sixth round of the Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup.
Coleraine and Cliftonville met on the opening day of the season at The Showgrounds with the Bannsiders looking to get off to a winning start. They certainly did that as they led by two goals at the break as Evan McLaughlin netted a quick-fire brace in front of a packed Ballycastle Road. However, Cliftonville reduced the gap as Ryan Curran headed into the back of the net from Levi Ives’ cross before they hit the woodwork through Ronan Hale’s powerful drive. After weathering that storm, Oran Kearney’s men would seal all three points at the death as Jamie Glackin’s shot went over the body of Fynn Talley.
In October, Coleraine would be home once again to the Reds but would find themselves 2-0 down inside the opening 14 minutes as Rory Hale hit a double after two defensive errors. The Bannsiders reduced the arrears at the break as Conor McKendry’s strike took a wicked deflection and went over the body of Nathan Gartside. However, early second-half pressure from Cliftonville would pay off on 62 minutes as the Reds went 3-1 ahead as a corner kick by Jamie McDonagh was headed into the net by Ryan Curran. The Stripes brought on Evan McLaughlin and James McLaughlin in a bid to get back into the contest and they pulled another goal back on 77 minutes as a terrific delivery by Josh Carson was steered into the net by Matthew Shevlin. Despite setting up a grandstand finish, the north Belfast side would leave with all three points on 89 minutes as a quick counter attack involving Chris Gallagher and Luke Turner allowed the latter to cross for Joe Gormley who headed into the back of the net.
Cliftonville would be the opposition for the Bannsiders in the semi-final of the BetMcLean Cup in December. The Stripes fell behind at half-time through Ronan Hale’s effort but deservedly forced extra-time when Matthew Shevlin fired in from Conor McDermott’s cross. However, Paddy McLaughlin’s men would hit the front in first-half extra-time as Odhran Casey blasted a drive into the net after Coleraine failed to clear a corner kick. Despite that setback, Coleraine levelled for a second time as Shevlin headed home from Lee Lynch’s cross to set-up penalties. After both Lyndon Kane and Ronan Hale missed from 12 yards, every other penalty was scored apart from Casey who blazed over as Coleraine reached a third successive League Cup final.
“Obviously with three points on offer and with them ahead of us in the table it’s someone we want to try and reel in and want to bring closer to us,” Kearney said.
“There’s an added bonus when you beat the teams above you so from our point of view we’re in good form, we’re in a good place and we’ll go there trying to get the three points.
“We’re used to the surface up there – it’s the same when they come here.
“We’ll not fear that aspect of it and we’ll look forward to going there again.
“The memories have been good but I’m not sure that’ll have a huge impact on Saturday.
“It’s about going and turning up on Saturday and putting in another really good performance.”
The match referee is Raymond Crangle.
The assistant referees are John Doherty and Brian Wilson.
Christopher Morrison has been allocated as fourth official.
Supporters are advised that entry is via tickets only HERE.
If you are not feeling yourself this afternoon and you have symptoms which you feel are similar to COVID-19, please stay away from the stadium and think of others.
As ever, those unable to watch the fixture can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).