Bannsiders hosts league champions

Bannsiders hosts league champions

Coleraine manager Rodney McAree will be looking an improvement from the team's last home league game, a 4-1 thumping by Glenavon a fortnight ago.

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan


Improvement needed at The Showgrounds

COLERAINE manager Rodney McAree will look for an improved performance from his players when they entertain last season's Danske Bank champions Crusaders at the Coleraine Showgrounds this Saturday afternoon.

The Bannsiders, yet to win under their new boss, went down to a heavy 4-1 defeat to high-flying Glenavon in their last Danske Bank Premiership outing a fortnight ago.

They then suffered back to back defeats for the first time in over a year when they lost 2-0 to Welsh Premier League leaders Connah's Quay in the Irn-Bru Cup last Saturday evening.

McAree's men are currently fifth in the table with 15 points, 12 points behind current leaders Linfield who have 27 points. Saturday's opponents Crusaders, meanwhile, have climbed to third in the table despite a slow start to the campaign.

The home side have been beset by injuries this season and it seems as if midfielder Ian Parkhill is the latest concern with a leg injury. It is expected that he will sit out Saturday's clash.

Better news, however, comes with the expected return of influential winger Josh Carson who has missed the last five games with a troublesome knee.

He may return to the squad for Saturday along with striker Jamie McGonigle who didn't take part in the Irn-Bru Cup game because of a thigh injury.

Also missing will be striker Eoin Bradley who continues his suspension following his red card picked up in last month's derby draw against Ballymena Utd.

Coleraine won the corresponding clash with the Crues 3-0 at Seaview at the start of September in what proved to be Oran Kearney's final game in charge.

That performance and result boded well for the season ahead but a lot has changed in the intervening weeks.

Whilst Coleraine haven't won a game since that Monday night in front of the Sky cameras, the north Belfast men have recovered to get their title defence back on track.

Given the form of the respective teams and the humbling nature of the defeat to Glenavon in their last appearance at the Ballycastle Road the omens point to an away victory.

However, perhaps Saturday is just the type of game to help kick-start Coleraine's season.

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