Coleraine boss Rodney McAree wants his side to make amends

Coleraine boss Rodney McAree
Coleraine boss Rodney McAree
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Coleraine boss Rodney McAree says his side owe themselves a performance in this Saturday’s derby clash with Ballymena United.

The Bannsiders are still smarting from a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Sky Blues in the last encounter back in March.

But McAree is hoping they can make that right at Warden Street on Saturday.

“We want to win games,” said the Bannsiders boss.

“We want to get as many points as we can between now and the end of the season going into the Europa League play-offs.

“Ballymena is going to be tough, they’ve had a fantastic season, but we’ve done reasonably well against them in the first two matches this season.

“The third match was disappointing so we owe ourselves a performance coming out of it.”

The Bannsiders are hoping to build some momentum going into the Europa League Play-offs.

And he believes they are heading in the right direction ahead of a crucial period of the season.

“We’ve played two teams this past two weeks who we could come up against in the play-offs and we’ve done reasonably well against them in certain areas,” said McAree.

“Steven Douglas went in at centre-half against Glenavon and did extremely well and probably steadied the ship a little bit.

“Also I thought last week at Cliftonville our front six did really well going forward so it would have been hard on one of those to have been left out.

“It was a day when we gave everybody a pat on the back in terms of going forward.

“If we can combine both performances with getting fully fit players and a full squad to pick from then we’ll be hopefully alright,” added the Coleraine boss.

Ballymena United are also focused on Europe as they bid to finally nail down an automatic Europa League spot.

Boss David Jeffrey is delighted with how his side have performed this term, now he wants them to go out and finish the job.

“When we started out at the beginning of the season we talked about wanting to get top six and to get a crack at Europe,” he said.

“An awful lot of other people said a lot of nice things about us being contenders and whatever else, but for us the focus never changed.

“We’ve talked all along about baby steps and incremental strides, and that continues today.

“I said to the players after last week’s game that they have done fantastically well and that they should be really proud.

“It’s massive for us to be challenging and to be talked about challenging the likes of Linfield and Crusaders, when their resources far, far outweigh ours.

“What I want to do now is reach that target and crack Europe. Yes we’ve had some great praise and comments this season, and rightly so, because the players have done so well.

“It has been enjoyable, but the journey isn’t over yet.

“I keep asking the players each week to go and finish the race.

“I’m aware of the various possibilities that could be played out in the coming weeks but, any time my mind has wandered, I’ve just brought myself back to the same mantra – one game at a time.

“Coleraine will give us a very tough match but we will go out and try to get the three points, regardless of what they might mean for us.

“I’m not thinking about qualifying for Europe automatically, through the play-offs or anything else – we just want to make sure we get there.”