CLIFTONVILLE boss Jim Magilton is relishing his side’s return home this evening when they take on Coleraine under the Solitude lights (7.45pm kick-off).
After four games on the road in all competitions, the Reds face the Bannsiders in the first of four home clashes on the spin and Magilton admits they have missed the atmosphere generated at their North Belfast base.
“We missed it,” admits Magilton.
“Playing there, we miss it. We miss that atmosphere. Our last home game was Larne - we were outstanding and unfortunate not to get three points. We’re back home in front of our fans and ready for a big game.”
Both sides go into this evening’s clash on the back of successive wins and Magilton was impressed with what he saw from Oran Kearney’s side in Friday evenings comeback victory over Glentoran at the Oval.
“I thought they were fantastic against Glentoran,” he reflected.
“You talk about away performances, they were outstanding and deserved to win the game. They carry massive threat with the ball, and they’ve got a lot of really good players. But we’re at home.
“We haven’t been at home for a while. Under the lights, I can’t wait and I’m looking forward to getting in front of our supporters again, who will get behind us. I’m sure it will be a great game. I hope I’m not talking it up and it will be a damp squib. With all the players on show, I’m sure it will be a great game.”
Last season the sides met five times across the league and both cup competitions, with four 2-2 draws and a 2-1 win for the hosts in the play-off semi-final.
Magilton expects another tight encounter given the quality on show and insists they will go about their preparation as usual in trying to identify strengths and expose any weaknesses.
“They are always tight and if you look at their quality and look at our quality, they are similar,” Magilton believes.
“We’ve got to recognise their strengths and try and exploit their weaknesses, which we do for every game. We did exactly the same for Ballymena and we will do exactly the same for Coleraine.”
On the back of their successive away victories over Crusaders and Ballymena, Magilton acknowledged the importance of picking up points on the road and believes it was down to the players attitude and application.
“It really is two big victories on the road,” acknowledged the Reds boss.
“I was manager at Ipswich, and I think we lost two games at home, just two games and had one away win and we missed the play-offs by a minute. The bonuses of picking up points away from home are massive, especially in this league.
“Today, the players again deserve credit. They found a way to win, it wasn’t all that pleasant at times on eye because again, you have to graft and you have to work for your results here and I thought we did.
“I’ll sound like a broken record but it’s about showing that intensity with and without the ball and defending our goal for our lives. We’ve done that again today. We set them up, but it comes down to the attitude and application of the players and they deserve all the credit for that.”