CLIFTONVILLE interim boss Declan O’Hara believes that Cliftonville and Coleraine know each other inside out and is hoping that home advantage may prove crucial ahead of their playoff semi-final against the Bannsiders at Solitude on Wednesday evening (7.45pm kick-off).
The sides meet for the seventh time this season across four league games and two cup competitions.
Both sides have experienced a league win each and a cup victory each on penalties with the other two games ending in 2-2 draws at Solitude.
O’Hara predicts another exciting game will lie in store on Wednesday but insists his side's focus is all on themselves and trying to clinch the last European spot in the league.
“We’ve played them enough times and both teams know each other inside out,” acknowledged O’Hara.
“It will be an exciting game, but we’re focusing on ourselves to go and put a performance on and make sure that we go and get a win. We’re good at home and we went a long way without losing games at home and picked up a lot of points over the course of the season.
“It’s a one-off semi-final of a cup competition and we’re ready to get to work and ready to get the boys into the final and hopefully European qualification, which is important to the club and the fans.”
𝗘𝗨𝗥𝗢𝗣𝗘𝗔𝗡 𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗬𝗢𝗙𝗙𝗦 🌍@cliftonvillefc 🆚 @ColeraineFC— NI Football League (@OfficialNIFL) May 8, 2023
A huge game at Solitude on Wednesday evening! pic.twitter.com/qswOLUrMs2
It will be 10 days on Wednesday since the Reds’ last competitive game in their 2-0 defeat to Linfield and O’Hara believes they have worked well in the interim period and are ready to hit the ground running.
“We’ve had a good week of training,” believes O’Hara.
“The boys have come in and even though we haven’t had a game, we’ve done a lot of work of training pitch to make sure that the boys know their roles and responsibilities of what comes ahead of us.
“We didn’t know who we were playing until Sunday, so we just focused on ourselves and made sure that the group got to work. The boys have been excellent for me since the day I took over. They’ve been brilliant and they’re looking forward to Wednesday’s game.”
Rory Hale is the Solitude side's only absentee through suspension with O’Hara revealing that he apart from long-term absentee Stephen Mallon, he had a full complement in training last week.
“Rory is the only one missing, apart from that we’ve a full squad,” O’Hara outlined.
“Obviously, Stephen Mallon is still out long term, but we’d a fully fit squad training last week. There could be a few knocks and niggles between now and then, but we’ll deal with anything that comes our way over the next couple of days.”