Football/Soccer

Getting first win is what matters now for new Bannsiders boss Rodney McAree ahead of Newry visit

Coleraine have drawn their last three games in the Danske Bank Premiership, but boss Rodney McAree is hoping for a first win under his charge when they face Newry City today. Picture by Pacemaker
Neil Loughran

Danske Bank Premiership: Newry City v Coleraine (today, 3pm, Newry Showgrounds)

SPIRIT, desire, never-say-die attitude - Rodney McAree has seen plenty that he likes since taking over from Oran Kearney, but what matters most now is getting three points on the board in Newry today.

Coleraine drew with Linfield in McAree’s first game in charge, and the 10-man Bannsiders battled back to secure a point against Ballymena United on Tuesday night.

However, three draws in-a-row have left Coleraine five points off the pace at the top of the table, and the former Dungannon Swifts boss is determined to pick up a first victory since moving from Stangmore Park.

“I’d like to get a first win and push on to achieve more than we have done in the past, but that will all take a lot of hard work and effort,” said McAree, who has left the Newry Showgrounds empty-handed already this season when his Swifts side fell to a 2-1 defeat.

“We know draws aren’t going to get us what we want, we need to pick up more wins. After the two performances and the effort they’ve put in, they deserve to go out and get a win, but we know that won’t be easy.

“Newry beat Dungannon earlier in the season, they’ve also beaten Cliftonville at home so it’s going to be a tough ask. It’s a hard place to go, there’s a lot of togetherness in the changing room at Newry so you know you’re going to come up against a very hard working and organised side.”

McAree has adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach since succeeding Kearney, who departed for Scottish Premiership outfit St Mirren earlier this month after four years at The Showgrounds.

Coleraine made huge strides under the Ballymoney man, and McAree insists he has no plans to make wholesale changes.

He added: “I haven’t changed too much, to be honest. We’ve tried to keep it relatively straightforward, and as much the same as what they’ve been doing up until now.

“There’s been a lot of comparisons in terms of how I see things done and what has already been done, but where I would see training and where I would see game preparation is very similar to what has been happening so it’s been a straightforward transition.

“It’s probably not a case that I’m going to try and do an awful pile in terms of trying to put my own stamp on things at this stage. What you’d hope is that your own stamp would come through in its own time, and without anybody really realising that there’s too much of a difference.

“But the players have been great and I’ve enjoyed it - it’s been easy for me to settle into the dressing room.”

Coleraine go into today’s game without the injured Lyndon Kane and Josh Carson, while Aaron Traynor is a doubt. However, Gareth McConaghie has recovered well from a hip injury sustained against Ards a fortnight ago and could feature at some stage.

One man who is definitely unavailable is striker Eoin Bradley, who was red-carded 16 minutes into the draw with Ballymena. However, McAree was impressed by the reaction of his players following the former Derry GAA star’s dismissal.

“There’s a lot of hunger, a lot of desire that they don’t want to get beat. After going down to 10 men, it put a lot of pressure on everybody else.

“Maybe we rode our luck a little bit before half-time and we managed to get in 2-1 down and that gave us an opportunity to regroup. To be fair, they showed a great desire to win the second half and hopefully we can take it from there.”

Rory Donnelly could make his long-awaited return for Cliftonville today

IRISH LEAGUE STATS

(all games kick-off at 3pm today)

Ards v Cliftonville

RORY Donnelly could make his first appearance of the season as Cliftonville travel to Clandeboye Park to face an Ards side without a league win since their 4-0 victory against Newry City last month. The former Swansea striker has finished his three month suspension, and played in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with the Northern Ireland juniors. Meanwhile, fellow forward Joe Gormley is just three goals away from breaking Cliftobville's all-time goalscoring record, which is held by Dr Kevin McGarry.

Odds: H: 2/7 D: 4/1 A: 13/2

Prediction: Cliftonville

Glenavon v Dungannon Swifts

IT’S a swift return to Mourneview Park for new Dungannon boss Kris Lindsay as he takes his charges back to his old stomping ground today. He was confirmed as Rodney McAree’s replacement at Stangmore Park during the week.

The Swifts defeated reigning champions Crusaders on Tuesday night but could find the going tough against the in-form Lurgan Blues.

Odds: H: 1/4 D: 4/1 A: 13/2

Prediction: Glenavon

Institute v Crusaders

IT has been a disastrous start to Crusaders’ defence of the Gibson Cup - losing four League games so far - but they are expected to bounce back at home to Institute. Paddy McLaughlin’s men are without a League win since August 18 and Stephen Baxter’s side, who are nine points off the top of the table, should get back to winning ways.

Odds: H: 7/1 D: 4/1 A: 1/4

Prediction: Crusaders

Linfield v Ballymena United

BALLYMENA have recorded just one away win from four outings so far this season, and will have their work cut out when they travel to Windsor Park.

Unbeaten Linfield sit a point off leaders Glenavon, and haven’t conceded a league goal since August 25. David Jeffrey’s men, the second highest scorers in the Danske Bank Premiership, will fancy their chances of ending that run.

Odds: H: 3/10 D: 4/1 A: 6/1

Prediction: Linfield

Newry City v Coleraine

RODNEY McAree is still looking for his first win since taking over from Oran Kearney at Coleraine, as the Bannsiders seek to end a run of three draws on the bounce.

Coleraine take their unbeaten record to the Newry Showgrounds today, where they face a City side that has only lost one home game so far.

Odds: H: 8/1 D: 4/1 A: 1/4

Prediction: Coleraine

Warrenpoint Town v Glentoran

GLENTORAN have made a strong start to the season, and can keep up the pressure on the top three with victory over Warrenpoint Town today.

The Glens have only lost one game so far, on the opening day of the season, while Warrenpoint’s only win of the season came at home to Cliftonville a fortnight ago.

Odds: H: 7/2 D: 10/3 A: 1/2

Prediction: Glentoran

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