Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine aren't feeling heat as challengers close in: McGonigle

By Jonathan McNabb

Coleraine striker Jamie McGonigle insists the Bannsiders aren't feeling any pressure despite their lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership being cut to four points.

Oran Kearney's men led the Boxing Day derby fixture against Ballymena United thanks to McGonigle's first-half strike, but were pegged back when Aaron Traynor deflected Kyle Owens' header into his own net.

The result - coupled with Crusaders' win over Cliftonville - means the North Coast club lead the Crues by only four points having played a game more.

"There is absolutely zero pressure on us," McGonigle said.

"We are just taking one game at a time and nothing changes as far as we're concerned.

"We knew Ballymena was going to be a tough game, but we just didn't get going and a draw was a fair result.

"It's up to us now as a team to get back to winning ways, but there is certainly no major drama in the changing room after dropping two points."

The league leaders' injury list seems to be easing with the return of Eoin Bradley from a knee injury, and the 21-year-old admits he is delighted to see his strike partner back.

"Eoin is a massive player for us and we have developed a strong partnership," McGonigle added.

"We have definitely missed his presence, but the likes of Ian Parkhill, Joe McCready and Brad Lyons have done well in an attacking position since his injury.

"I believe that Eoin can bring the best out of me, and vice versa, but his return is great for the squad in general.

"You could see he was hungry on Tuesday as he went close on a couple of occasions."

The Northern Ireland Under-21 international bagged his 10th goal of the campaign against the Sky Blues, but has targeted more than double that before the end of the season.

"My aim in August was to hit 25 goals," McGonigle continued. "I managed 19 last season."

The Bannsiders will turn their attentions to Cliftonville tomorrow and, despite beating the Reds in both meetings this season, the Dungiven man is expecting a tough test at Solitude.

"They had a sticky start to the season but recovered well and have players with a sharp eye for goal. They will be hurting from back-to-back defeats against Linfield and Crusaders, so we will need to be at our best," he added.

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