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David Jeffrey eager to give Ballymena fans the ideal present with victory over Coleraine

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Great shakes: Oran Kearney and David Jeffrey will go head-to-head in the search for three points. Credit: INPHO/Declan Roughan

Great shakes: Oran Kearney and David Jeffrey will go head-to-head in the search for three points. Credit: INPHO/Declan Roughan

©INPHO/Declan Roughan

Great shakes: Oran Kearney and David Jeffrey will go head-to-head in the search for three points. Credit: INPHO/Declan Roughan

David Jeffrey has always relished big Christmas derbies and the buzz that surrounds them. For most of his time in football, festive fixtures were all about Linfield v Glentoran. There was also a sprinkling of Ards v Bangor and now Ballymena United v Coleraine is what counts.

A month ago the thought of Ballymena winning today at the Showgrounds to close the gap on Coleraine to two points in the table would have been unthinkable but with the Bannsiders on a poor run of league form, Jeffrey’s men can do just that.

The Sky Blues, in seventh, are five points behind Oran Kearney’s side, who have dropped to sixth and picked up just two points from their last five matches. They may have reached the League Cup final in between, but the Premiership form will be a concern for Kearney having previously been on an impressive run.

In contrast, Ballymena seem to be in a good place. They may have lost 1-0 to Linfield at Windsor Park last week but with a little more luck they would have taken something from the game. Prior to that, they had won four out of five league games.

“Boxing Day derbies are excellent and always very special, especially for supporters,” said Jeffrey ahead of his home game with Coleraine today.

“There is always a bigger crowd out with supporters home who are living across the water or those who have fallen away for a period coming to the game. They are big for players and big for everyone involved with the clubs.

“I have been involved in Big Two derbies and Bangor v Ards on Boxing Day could also be a tasty one and I look forward to the Coleraine fixture over the festive period.

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“They are in the League Cup final and we know it will be a tough encounter but the message will be simple to our players in that we will ask them to give their best and we will see where that takes us.

“We go into the derby knowing what it means to everyone.

“This season we are desperately trying to hit the top six but the first target is can we get seventh? That’s realistically where we are at. That’s why we were disappointed not to get at least a point against Linfield in our last match in which we produced a controlled and disciplined performance.”

David Parkhouse was full of running versus the Blues as he continued his comeback from injury. The powerful striker will be a threat against Coleraine.

Jeffrey said: “David had played some minutes after injury and I thought against Linfield it was time to let the big man off the shackles. He is a strong player and hopefully will show the quality he has for the rest of the season.”

Kearney used to play for Jeffrey at Linfield. In recent years, his Coleraine side have enjoyed a healthy record against DJ’s Sky Blues.

To continue that they will have to start finding the net again on the back of three scoreless outings, the latest of which came last Wednesday in a 2-0 loss at home to Glentoran.

The Coleraine boss feels the match with Ballymena can get his team going.

“To me, it’s a game where you go and kickstart it again and get rolling,” said Kearney.

“We’ve got to show character, we’ve got to show that fight again, pick ourselves up and get going.”


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