IRISH LEAGUE: McConaghie relishing clash with Crusaders

Coleraine's Gareth McConaghie is looking forward to Saturday's clash with Crusaders. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Coleraine's Gareth McConaghie is looking forward to Saturday's clash with Crusaders. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Gareth McConaghie has had to bide his time on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to get a run in this high-flying Coleraine side this season.

The Dervock man is now back to full fitness and back in the side after a frustrating summer of injuries.

And boy is he making up for lost time!

After an impressive cameo in the second half of the defeat to Linfield last Saturday McConaghie helped himself to a brace in the 4-1 win over Ards in midweek.

Now he is relishing going toe-to-toe with Crusaders in a mouth-watering clash at The Showgrounds on Saturday.

“I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s game,” said the 29-year-old.

“When you’ve been out for a while you can’t wait to be back playing competitive games, especially big games like this one.

“It was a frustrating time watching on from the sidelines, obviously you’re delighted to see the team doing so well, but you just want to be a part of it.

“The lads went on a fantastic run and you can’t complain when they are playing like that and winning games.

“No one could complain about not playing because of the form of the starting eleven since the start of the season, they have been great.

“You just have to bide your time and take the chance when it comes along.

“I got a chance last Saturday against Linfield and I grabbed it with both hands.”

The Bansiders long unbeaten run came to an end against the Blues last weekend, but there was no major post mortem for the league leaders.

As McConaghie explained they simply set their sights on picking up three points against Ards.

“A lot of people were talking about the run we were on, but we are only taking it as one game at a time, and we will continue to do that and see how far it takes us,” he said.

“We work hard for each other and the confidence is high amongst the team.

“There is always going to be tough times throughout the season, but that’s when you stick together as a team and get through it.

“There’s a long way to go, it’s still only November, we just have to take it one game at a time.

“We will approach Saturday’s game like we would do any other game and go for the three points.

“We will be up for the fight, as I’m sure Crusaders will be too.

“We know whatthey have and what they will bring to Saturday’s game, but we are confident going into the game.

“We have to look after ourselves, win our own personal battles and everything else will fall into place.

“I’ve no doubt there will be another big crowd here getting behind us again.

“The fans have been great this season, they have been coming out in their numbers, the boys on the pitch have been doing the business and pleasing them.”

McConaghie and the Coleraine rearguard will be in for a stiff examination against a Crusaders side who have bagged eleven goals in their last two league games.

After hammering Carrick Rangers 7-1 last Saturday, they hit another four against Dungannon Swifts in midweek.

“The form is good, we’re playing well, but what pleases me most is the clean sheet, plus the four goals,” said boss Stephen Baxter following their win at Stangmore Park.

“We were comfortable in the game, but we’ve got that little something about us at the minute, we look as if we are up for it.

“That’s what you ask players to go and do all the time to perform and give their best and work hard, and that’s what they are doing right now.

“They are all talented players, playing at a very high level and no-one is better than anyone else at this club.

“They work very hard and they are magnicent to a man,” he added.