Saturday, 15 February 2020
The final of the BetMcLean League Cup is upon us as Coleraine and Crusaders meet at the National Stadium tonight in search of glory (kick-off: 7.30pm)
The two sides met in the same final in 2012 at the Ballymena Showgrounds with a solitary Chris Morrow goal separating the sides.
Not all of the club’s January signings can feature in today’s final – for Coleraine Curtis Allen could feature from the bench since his move from Glentoran but fellow new arrival Stewart Nixon is cup-tied having already featured for Carrick Rangers. Cameron Dummingan is also likely to feature in the Crusaders panel after arriving from Dundalk.
Brothers Stephen (Coleraine) and Philip Lowry (Crusaders) will be on opposite sides today for their first time as both sides look to take the first steps to landmark domestic treble of trophies, both sides will look to their recent Irish Cup victories in the recent two seasons for inspiration for another major trophy tonight.
Stephen Baxter’s men come into the final bang in form since losing on Boxing Day, as they had recorded seven straight victories across all competitions as they have propelled themselves back into the title race, before losing to Glenavon last Saturday at Mourneview Park.
Coleraine have won four games in a row leading up to today, including an important league victory against Glentoran that moved the Bannsiders into second place. Their last defeat came against Crusaders at home.
The two clubs have met three times in the league this season with Coleraine winning two of those encounters, but with the Crues earning the most recent victory last month at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds. Jordan Owens scored the only goal in front of the BBC Two live cameras.
Route to the Final
Crusaders - Round 2 – Annagh United (h) – won 4-0; Round 3 – Glentoran (h) – won 2-1; Quarter-final – Dundela (a) – won 5-1; Semi-final – Linfield (a) – won 3-0.
Crusaders - Round 2 – BYE (Lurgan Celtic withdrew); Round 3 – Limavady United (a) – won 4-1; Quarter-final – Ballymena United (a) – won 2-1; Semi-final – Institute (h) – won 2-0.
Players to watch
Coleraine – Aaron Canning featured in the 2012 League Cup for the Bannsiders and has since left and returned to the club as one of the most impressive performances in the Premiership this season. Moulded into a no-nonsense centre half, Canning will have to be at his best today to keep out a dangerous Crusaders front line.
Crusaders – Jordan Owens is another survivor from the previous final meeting between these sides. Big ‘Chicken’ remains one of the main men in Stephen Baxter’s armoury and the club’s all time record goalscorer continues to chip in with important goals on all fronts.
Ian McNabb is the referee for this live game with Stephen Donaldson and Adam Jeffrey as assistant referees on the line. Shane Andrews is the fourth official with Ryan Kelsey as the first additional assistant.
Tickets are still available from Ticketmaster for this game. Click here to buy tickets now.
The live coverage from the National Stadium at Windsor Park is available on Sky Sports Main Event as well as Sky Sports Football from 7pm on Monday evening. Hosted by Graham Little and with commentary from Paul Gilmour and Steve Lomas.