Coleraine look to cut gap to Crusaders with win over Ballinamallard

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney is remaining upbeat despite five draws in the Bannsiders' last seven league games
Andy Watters

Danske Bank Premiership: Ballinamallard United v Coleraine; Glentoran v Ards (Friday, 7.45pm)

COLERAINE have the chance to cut the gap to league leaders Crusaders when they travel to basement club Ballinamallard tonight.

The Bannsiders, who were the early pacesetters in the Danske Bank Premiership this season, have drawn five of their last seven league games, putting a dent in their title ambitions. However, Oran Kearney’s side will go two points behind Crusaders if they can take all three points against Ballinamallard, who are eight points off safety.

Coleraine were forced to settle for a draw against 10-man Glenavon last Saturday when Ciaron Harkin had a penalty saved by Jonny Tuffey, but manager Kearney was upbeat after that result.

"I've said to the players that we've only dropped two points and you can hear about Crusaders going five points clear, but we've only drawn a game and we move onto the next one,” said Kearney.

"The job for us in the next 10 games is to pick up as many three points as we can and, if and when Crusaders drop points, we need to make sure we are the first team they see and the gap closes."

Also tonight, mid-table Glentoran take on Ards at the Oval in a match Glens manager Gary Heavron says is a must-win one for his side. Glentoran moved into sixth place in the table with a late win over Carrick Rangers on Tuesday and Haveron is determined to make it two from two this week.

"We set ourselves a target of six points from our two games this week so the result at Carrick means we are on course to achieve that, but we need to perform better," the Glentoran boss said.

"We made changes for Tuesday and we'll make changes again for Friday. We have to pick and choose what matches some players play, taking into account the ground, the conditions and the opposition, which may suit some players better than others."

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