Allen: it’s my turn to have final say
The joy of winning the league title in both of his two seasons at Linfield was tempered each time as David Jeffrey’s 16-man squad for back-to-back Irish Cup triumphs over Portadown in 2010 and Crusaders last year didn’t include the 23-year-old striker.
Those disappointments are now being used as motivation as the 18-goal hitman aims to fire Coleraine to IRN-BRU League Cup glory against Crusaders on Saturday and end the club’s nine-year wait for silverware.
“I played in a couple of County Antrim Shield finals at Linfield — and lost them both as it turned out — but I was left out of two Irish Cup finals,” said Allen, who moved to the Bannsiders just 48 hours after he was released by Linfield last May.
“I’d played in both semi-finals and when you do that you kind of expect to feature somewhere along the line in the final, so it was disappointing for me.
“That makes this final a bit more special for me. I haven’t been in this final before either with Linfield or Lisburn Distillery, so it’s a big day for me personally.”
Allen’s record this season shows just why manager Oran Kearney rushed to secure his signature ahead of rival clubs.
It is his most recent form, however, that should have the Crues worried as the former Bournemouth trainee is desperate to find the net again.
“I have scored 18 goals this season and if someone had said at the start of the season that I’d score that many at this stage I’d have been more than happy,” said Allen.
“I had a good run over Christmas, but I haven’t scored in the last two games.
“If anything though that has worked out better because it will spur me on wanting to score when the final comes around.
“Crusaders are a big strong side. Colin Coates and David Magowan at the back are strong, smart and experienced.
“It’s difficult playing against them, but as a footballer you want to play against the best and they are up there.
“You want to challenge yourself, but I don’t fear anyone in the league.
“I am confident in my own ability and in the players in our team.
“I am going in full of confidence that I can get the better of either of them.”
That confidence isn’t misplaced as even the absence of Leon Knight from the team — exiled in London as both club and player refuse to pay for flights in order for him to play — hasn’t had an impact on Allen’s return of goals.
And now he wants to deliver a trophy to the Bannsiders support, who will be 2,500 strong at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
“I don’t think until you play in a game when you have got the big support you see how their backing does impact on the players,” said Allen.
“At the semi-final night at Solitude there was a big crowd there and even when it went to extra-time they were still cheering away.
“It really does urge you to go on and get that last ball and put that last tackle in.
“It adds an extra buzz to the team and it will do on Saturday. Hopefully the fans can play a vital part in us winning the cup.”