Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine are primed to face Ballymena United backlash

By Billy Weir

Oran Kearney will have a simple message for his players ahead of tonight's trip to Ballymena United - beware of the wounded animal. The Sky Blues are still nursing the sores of their recent mauling by their derby rivals and, with Coleraine on a great unbeaten run that has taken them into third position in the table, will go into tonight's encounter as underdogs.

But Kearney insists that 4-0 Tennent's Irish Cup victory for the Bannsiders will have no bearing on this evening's tussle at Warden Street.

Five points separate the two sides ahead of kick-off, with Kearney suggesting that United's League Cup success was partly responsible for the one-sided nature of the last encounter.

"I'm sure they are hurting but they've had a great season and I think the cup takes energy out of people, both mental and physical, and we possibly got them at a good time," he explained.

"I don't think Tuesday night will just be as straightforward, I certainly don't see it like that, so it's important we dust ourselves down and get ready for another big derby."

Kearney's men are on a tremendous run of form, with 12 wins from their last 13 outings, but it is not runs he interested in, it's points.

"When you arrive on a new matchday, stats are stats and I don't give a damn about them," he said.

"As much as people take great pleasure in whatever length it is, I keep saying the guys it's a new script and a new day.

"I don't care about records, I just care about getting three points."

United's cause will not be helped this evening with striker Cathair Friel missing out through suspension after his sending off in Saturday's 4-2 defeat by Glentoran.

There are no such problems for Coleraine's ace marksman, Jamie McGonigle, who bagged a brace in that thrashing of United a few weeks ago and poached another pair in the victory over Glenavon on Saturday past.

"Ballymena will be out for revenge like we were the last time up there," the 21-year-old striker with 17 goals to his credit said.

"There are no easy games in the Irish League. Our target is third and to get into the Irish Cup Final and we'll take it one game at a time and see where ittakes us."

United skipper Jim Ervin is expected to be back to lead the side after serving a ban.

  • Ballymena United v Coleraine, Danske Bank Premiership, Ballymena Showgrounds, Today, 7.45pm

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