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Irish League sides are now seen as a force to be reckoned with in European football, insists Motherwell boss Robinson

 

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Patience game: Stephen Robinson watches on as Motherwell dispose of Glentoran in the previous round

Patience game: Stephen Robinson watches on as Motherwell dispose of Glentoran in the previous round

PMAKER

Patience game: Stephen Robinson watches on as Motherwell dispose of Glentoran in the previous round

Stephen Robinson insists he is "proud" of the recent success Northern Ireland teams have had in Europe.

However, he will want his Motherwell side to put an end to Coleraine's fairytale run this year as the two lock horns at The Showgrounds this evening.

Ulsterman Robinson knows that a win for his troops will create a piece of history as they will progress into the third qualifying round of the competition for the first time.

The Bannsiders produced arguably the greatest result by an Irish League club in Europe last time out as they held their nerve to defeat NK Maribor on penalties in Slovenia - a result which hasn't gone unnoticed in Lanarkshire.

"Coleraine have shown a magnificent result against Maribor, so anything is possible in a one-off game," Robinson said.

"Anything is achievable, and ties being one leg increases the chances of smaller teams going through.

"I would class us as one of the smaller teams in Europe as well, so we are hoping to take advantage of that just as much as Oran (Kearney) will be.

"It would be absolutely fantastic to be in the third round, but this will be a difficult game as Northern Ireland football is now being seen as a decent force in Europe.

"What Linfield have done and what Coleraine have done, I think it is fantastic.

"Obviously being from Northern Ireland I am fairly patriotic and proud, and I'm delighted to see the progress.

"However, as far as Motherwell are concerned, we have never actually got this far so it is a big incentive to win.

"There are huge incentives financially for the clubs and huge incentives for the players."

Having already played Glentoran in the previous qualifying round, Robinson believes that the Steelmen will have to be "patient" in this evening's clash on the north coast.

"It will be a tough game. We never underestimated Glentoran either as they had a lot of players that I worked with," he continued.

"We are well aware of the threats. Coleraine have some experienced boys that have been there and done it and been around the block.

"They will have good game knowledge, so we will have to be very much up for it and we will have to take our game to Coleraine.

"We will be favourites to win the game and we will have a lot of the ball, but we will need to have an end product.

"Against Glentoran the lesson was that we had to be patient. We had boys running themselves into the ground and they were disciplined and organised.

"It might not be the first 15 minutes that you win the game, we will need to show a lot of patience and persevere with our beliefs."

There will also be a battle of friends on the touchline as Robinson once again goes toe-to-toe with ex-St Mirren boss Oran Kearney, as well as getting to see several players who he worked with at underage levels during his time with Northern Ireland.

"Oran seems to fit here at Coleraine. When he left and went to St Mirren, Coleraine struggled a little bit, and then since he's come back they've kicked on and have done really well," he added.

"I know Oran well from his time in Scotland and we used to travel back and forward together.

"I have a lot of respect for him and for what he has done for Coleraine, and we certainly won't be underestimating the task ahead.

"It is always nice to come back home and pit your wits against people you have come up against before.

"Coleraine have got boys I have worked with before when they were very young, Lyndon Kane and Ben Doherty especially."

Bannsiders boss Kearney labelled his players as being "in a good place" ahead of the all-British tie.

"We're in a good place as a squad and there's a good vibe there," he said.

"I'm glad the Maribor game was two weeks ago and this game didn't come a week later.

"I think with the euphoria and adrenaline of the Maribor game, and probably even the energy expended, it probably would have taken a few of our lads 10-12 days to get back physically training normally.

"Mentally as well, all the praise that they received was nice but it was great to reset again.

"We trained really well last week, had a competitive game against Linfield and that tuned us in again.

"As a club we're in uncharted territory and we've made progress, and the last couple of weeks have given everyone a real taste for it.

"I don't think they want it to stop, and it's about going out again and making sure that we hit that level and we give ourselves a chance."

And Motherwell defender Declan Gallagher hopes Robinson's homework will benefit the Steelmen.

Gallagher said: "The gaffer has good knowledge of a few of their players, he has given us insight into how they might play and shape up. So it is good knowledge, and Trevor Carson knows a few of the boys as well. So we will be well prepared and we've been doing our homework.

"We watched clips of the Maribor game, they are a hard-working team and well organised so we know it's going to be a really tough test for us."

Motherwell gave themselves a lift going into the game by sealing their first Scottish Premiership win of the campaign with a 1-0 victory over St Johnstone on Saturday, but Gallagher had not been overly concerned about their early-season form.

"I didn't think there were any panic stations just yet, we just weren't getting that rub of the green," he said.

"Hibs were flying high when we went to Easter Road and we probably played the best we have played this season and only got a point. Saturday was probably the worst we played and yet we got three points. That's football for you.

"I didn't think there was anything to panic about, and now we have picked up those first three points, I think we will kick on now."

Coleraine v Motherwell

Coleraine Showgrounds, Tonight, 7.30pm

Belfast Telegraph