Crusaders captain Colin Coates: League Cup final is a 50/50 showdown


Colin Coates believes there is nothing between Saturday’s IRN-BRU League Cup finalists.

The Crusaders skipper is preparing to face arch nemesis Cliftonville in a winner-takes-all clash at Windsor Park.

It see the top two teams in the Danske Bank Premiership go toe-to-toe.

Cliftonville sit nine points clear of the Crues as they set their sights on a first league title in 15 years.

The two have met twice this season in the Premiership – both winning their respective home fixtures.

And for Coates, there will be little or nothing in it when they renew rivalries on Saturday.

“We know Cliftonville’s strengths and weaknesses, and they know ours. We have to try and exploit theirs,” Coates said.

“Our confidence is great. We are coming off the back of two big results for us so everyone is buzzing.

“We are creating chances and scoring goals, and we are solid at the back. But I am sure Cliftonville would say the same.

“It is really a 50-50 game on paper and it will be tight. It might end up like Boxing Day where one goals wins it.

“We just hope it is a good day.”

One player who has earned rave reviews this season is Reds striker Liam Boyce.

Boyce has bagged an impressive 25 goals already this term and has been the catalyst to Cliftonville’s silverware crusade.

Coates admits the Northern Ireland international poses a significant threat on Saturday, but adds that the 21-year-old is only human.

“Liam is a good player. He is strong and holds it up well. He also takes his chances,” Coates said.

“But there are other good players in the league you are used to coming up against – the Peter Thompsons, Mark McAllisters etc.

“So it is not as if you are coming up against someone who is miles ahead of anyone else. Liam is a good player and is on form, so we will have to keep an eye on him. “