Belfast Telegraph

Mac’s return puts Coates on centre stage at Crusaders

By Graham Luney

Stephen McBride has slotted back into his left-back role at Crusaders and that’s good news for Colin Coates.

While McBride was nursing a knee injury, the Crues defence struggled to keep its shape as Stephen Baxter’s side lost 5-2 to Crusaders and 3-2 to Dungannon Swifts.

Coates was asked to perform an unfamiliar left-back role against the Swifts and the experiment failed to work, but when McBride made his comeback against Glentoran at the Oval, Coates was back in the heart of the rearguard and a clean sheet followed.

Coagh United will visit Seaview tomorrow in a sixth round Irish Cup fixture, but Baxter is expected to send out another strong line-up as the north-Belfast side have no intention of releasing their grip on the trophy they won last year.

Bangor were put to the sword 5-1 in the previous round and with the back four of McBride, Coates, David Magowan and Gareth McKeown back in harness, the Championship 1 side will need to bring their shooting boots with them.

“It’s our usual back four we have had for two years and we know each other’s games,” said skipper Coates.

“It was a bit more familiar for us and we looked a lot more solid.

“I used to play left-back when I was younger, but I don’t think I’m cut out for that anymore. I think centre-back is my position.

“It’s good to be back in the middle and involved in the game, I didn’t feel that way at left-back.

“We defended really well against Glentoran, particularly in the second-half.

“It was a good point for us and an important one because after the high of beating Linfield in the County Antrim Shield final, we came down to earth with a bump against Coleraine and Dungannon Swifts.

“Winning the Irish Cup was a special achievement and we are determined to do it again so we will not underestimate Coagh United who will relish the chance to cause a big upset. Any complacency would result in a disastrous outcome.”

Belfast Telegraph

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