Preview of Saturday's game

Posted : 12th October 2017 at 08:16:46

Matchday 10 of the Danske Bank NIFL Premiership takes Linfield to the Coleraine Showgrounds for a top of the table clash with Coleraine FC (3pm ko). The two teams have already met this season when Linfield lifted the Charity Shield at the Oval (3-1).

Saturday's Irn-Bru Challenge Cup tie at Tannadice Park ended in disappointment when Linfield narrowly lost to a youthful Dundee United side (1-0). The Blues were to pay a heavy price for failing to convert several decent first half chances when the home side scored deep into added time in the second half. Linfield's participation in the Challenge Cup has however proved to be a welcome addition to the fixture list.

In their last outing Coleraine travelled to the Ballymena Showgrounds and recorded a derby win over the home side (2-0). This season the Bannsiders have come flying out of the blocks to remain unbeaten and sit firmly in pole position in the Premiership table. It has therefore been no surprise to see the plaudits and awards arriving at the Showgrounds with manager Oran Kearney picking up a second consecutive NIFL Manager of the Month award and striker Darren McAauley receiving the NIFL Player of the month award. During the summer the Coleraine Board pulled off an astute piece of business when they tied Kearney to a new three year deal at the club. During September Dublin based student McAuley hit double-goal salvos against Carrick Rangers, Ards, and Glenavon to bring his tally up to seven in nine games for the Bannsiders.

After last season's third place finish and Irish Cup Final appearance, Coleraine will be looking to raise the bar and push on towards lifting a major trophy. Could this be the breakthrough season for a provincial club to lift the league title for the first time since Portadown in 2002? Coleraine have certainly given notice that they intend to be stay right up there to the end of the season.

With Coleraine already enjoying a four point gap at the top of the table, Linfield really do need to take something from this game. The Blues certainly look much sharper up front following Andy Waterworth's return from a long term injury. Games between the two teams at the Showgrounds have in recent seasons generally been tight, low scoring affairs. The exception to this pattern of results came during last season's title run in when Linfield comfortably eased past Coleraine (5-1). Form would suggest that Saturday's game will be a much tighter affair this time round. The Showgrounds will be packed for the Premiership match of the day! COYB!

Ken Garrett.
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