IRISH LEAGUE: Coleraine have all the qualities

Josh Carson celebrates his goal against Glenavon at The Showgrounds back in September. Photo Kirth Ferris/Pacemaker Press
Josh Carson celebrates his goal against Glenavon at The Showgrounds back in September. Photo Kirth Ferris/Pacemaker Press

Josh Carson believes Coleraine’s ability to grind out results will stand them in good stead this season.

The Bannsiders have rightly earned the plaudits for their free-flowing football this season.

Their youthful exuberance has helped them surge to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

But their desire to dig in and get the win, even when they may not be at their best, has helped them open up an eight point gap at the summit.

“It’s not always going to be free flowing football and scoring goals,” he said.

“Some days you have to dig in and grind out results.

“We have shown that in the last two games against Cliftonville and Glentoran.

“I’m glad we are capable of playing both ways, it shows what we have in us.

“We have a real never-say-die attitude and keep going until the final whistle.

“The key for us is to chalk up as many wins as we can, we have been doing that regularly and long may it continue.

“Tuesday night’s win over Ballinamallard United means we have now beaten every team in the league, which is a great achievement.”

As well as impressing in front of goal this term Coleraine have the meanest defence in the league having conceded only eight goals in their 12 games to date.

In fact Saturday’s opponents Glenavon are the only team to have scored more than once against the Bannsiders in the League.

“I’m really looking forward to the game,” said Carson.

“I’m sure it will be another cracker, you saw it down at The Showgrounds earlier in the season it was frantic at times.

“It’s great to see ourselves and Glenavon up there at the top, and it’s great for the league too as it shows there are more teams than just Linfield and Crusaders.”

Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney is also expecting a tough encounter as he knows the Lurgan Blues, who have averaged over three goals a game so far, pose a real attacking threat.

“They will want to prove a point after the result they had at The Showgrounds,” he said.

“There wasn’t a huge amount between the sides that day and they have some talented players.

“They are similar to us in the fact that they have a lot of good young players and a few old hands.

“They have a lot of players who can do damage and are scoring goals for fun.

“We know how tough it will be, but we will look forward to it.”

Kearney’s opposite number, Gary Hamilton, is full of admiration for the work put in by him to assemble and develop a panel of players that has grabbed the spotlight this season.

However, he has set aside personal praise in pursuit of victory to extend second-place Glenavon’s own promising run of form.

“Coleraine are looking strong and have that crucial belief in each other,” said Hamilton.

“It is set up for an exciting afternoon but we must look to our own goals and find a way to gain an edge and get that result.

“Oran and the club deserve respect but now, because of that progress, every team wants to knock them down.

“It comes down to each group planning and those small margins, especially as the teams play in such a similar way.”

Hamilton views last weekend’s win over Carrick Rangers in difficult conditions encouraging evidence of the growing game maturity within his squad.

“The Carrick game was about adapting to the pitch and wind and finding a way to get a result,” said the Glenavon boss.

“To show that togetherness is a great lift and sign we are moving in the right direction.

“Although I do not really single out individuals, I thought the performance of Sammy Clingan was excellent against Carrick.

“We asked him to use his experience to play a certain way in service to the team that, at times, was not his usual game but he accepted the responsibility and is a great example to any young player.”