Belfast Telegraph

We must keep firing and gain our revenge over Reds: McAree

Tough test: Coleraine chief Rodney McAree knows his side will
be tested by Cliftonville at the Showgrounds today
Tough test: Coleraine chief Rodney McAree knows his side will be tested by Cliftonville at the Showgrounds today

By Steven Beacom

Rodney McAree wants his Coleraine team to start the new year the way they finished 2018 and gain some revenge against Cliftonville in the process.

The Reds go into this afternoon's fixture at the Showgrounds having lost 6-4 to Institute, 5-1 to Crusaders and 2-0 to Linfield in their festive fixtures to date but boss Barry Gray will hope his players are buoyed by their last visit to Coleraine when they won 2-1 in October.

While Cliftonville plan to arrest an alarming Christmas slump, the Bannsiders are determined to build on the seven points they have gained from their three encounters over the holiday period by grabbing a victory that would see them leap over the north Belfast men into fifth place in the Danske Bank Premiership standings.

Boss McAree feels his team should enter the clash in good heart after their 1-0 success at Warrenpoint Town on Saturday.

"I said before the game against Warrenpoint that there were too many times since I came in when we had two good results in a row but ended up going back to the drawing board, so it was good to get over that hurdle and go three games unbeaten," explained McAree.

"It's about giving yourself something to build on. I do see big improvements in our work-rate. It's been more like the Coleraine sides I'd have played or managed against.

"We have to focus on picking up points and moving up the table and seeing if we can catch teams above us and how many we can catch.

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"Cliftonville will be a tough encounter for us. The last time they came to the Coleraine Showgrounds they ran out worthy winners so we'll have to try and reverse that."

Losing full-back Lyndon Kane (below) to a broken foot - the youngster has been so unlucky with injuries in recent years - during the Warrenpoint game was a bitter blow though replacement Graham Crown was extremely solid.

"I thought Graham did really well when he came on for Lyndon, who has been so unfortunate. I had a conversation with Graham on Friday and he was wondering where his future lay which is understandable because players want to play games and get minutes. It just shows you how football can change so quickly," stated McAree, who was also pleased with the contributions of another substitute, Eoin Bradley, and matchwinner Jamie McGonigle at Milltown.

"I was delighted for Jamie and Eoin as well. What the two guys have to understand is that the work-rate and effort they put in is what is expected and they have to do it week in, week out. If they do it we can see the rewards," said the former Dungannon Swifts boss.

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