Belfast Telegraph

High praise for the Mosside Messi ahead of derby

James McLaughlin
James McLaughlin

By Billy Weir

There is another derby on Saturday, the clash of those dear friends from either end of the A26, Ballymena United and Coleraine.

It's second v fourth in the table and there is expected to be a bumper crowd at Warden Street for Oran Kearney's first derby since his second coming at Coleraine.

And nothing like heaping a bit of pressure on his star striker ahead of the meeting, with Kearney describing James McLaughlin as the best finisher he has worked with.

The Mosside Messi bagged four goals in last weekend's 5-0 thumping of Dungannon Swifts and his boss was fulsome in his praise afterwards.

"I'd put him in line with the likes of a Glenn Ferguson because he is that good a finisher," said Kearney.

"He's such a natural finisher. I see it in training all the time. Left foot, right foot, header - it doesn't matter."

As good as Spike? That's a big claim, but there is no doubt that the McLaughlin of 2019 looks like a different man and, when he is fully fit and firing, he is right up there.

Lyndon Kane, who thankfully is back and playing superbly again, was in no doubt over his old pal's place in the pecking order.

"On his day he is the best striker in the league," he said.

We're certainly in rude health for natural born thrillers in this era, Andy Waterworth, Joe Gormley, Cathair Friel and, just in case people had forgotten about him, Jamie McGonigle goes and scores five for Crusaders in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday night.

Bound to be a scoreless draw on Saturday...

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