Coleraine and Crusaders go head to head tonight in Danske Bank Premiership live on BBC2 from 7.30pm. Coleraine got the better of Crusaders in the their last two league matches, winning 4-2 at Ballycastle Road in September and 2-0 at Seaview in October.
Coleraine are in third in the Premiership on 47 points tied with Linfield however David Healy’s side have 2 games in hand, their opponents Crusaders are two places below in fifth on 46 but have the opportunity to leapfrog if they can beat the Bannsiders tonight.
Both sides return to top-flight action after progressing to the sixth round of the Irish Cup last week, Crusaders saw off Dundela with a 3-0 win and the Bannsiders beat Glenavon 2-0. Coleraine have won three of their last four games, despite an uncharacteristic dip in form in early December, the home side have only lost one of their last seven outings in all competitions.
Since their Boxing Day defeat to Cliftonville, the Crues have regrouped to produce three wins with a dozen goals scored and none conceded as Stephen Baxter tackles 2020 knowing there is little margin for error if he his side is to challenge for the league title.
Coleraine has new signing Matthew Fitzpatrick who signed a pre contract agreement which will see him spend the next eighteen months at the Showgrounds available for tonights game and manager Oran Kearney believes the forward can make an important contribution.
“Matthew brings a lot of good attributes – he has done really well at Belfast Celtic, he’s an athlete and he will fit into the way we play and go about our business.
“He’s a really good fella too and we look forward to getting him out and seeing what he can do.”
Fitzpatricks signing has paved the way for striker Nedas Maciulaitis to move back to Annagh United on loan for the remainder of the season.
Tonight’s game is also a dress rehearsal for the BetMcLean League Cup final next month as the two sides will meet again at the National Stadium at Windsor Park to contest the showpiece final on 15 February.
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