After the comparative excitement of starting the season with a Europa League game, it was back to the more mundane routine of pre-season friendlies against lower league opposition as Coleraine played a double header over last weekend.
Game 2: Portstewart 2-2 Coleraine (Seahaven, Portstewart – 28.7.2017)
This fixture against Coleraine’s closest neighbours (in terms of Irish League clubs anyway) has long been part of the Bannsiders’ pre-season build-up, but in recent years it has gained greater poignancy as a memorial game for Wesley Gregg, who had worked as a coach at both clubs before his untimely death in the summer of 2015. After a trip for ice cream along the scenic Portstewart Promenade, I headed to Seahaven (certainly a candidate for the quaintest ground I’ll visit this season) for the game and saw a young Coleraine team, mostly made up of reserve team players, mount a comeback from 2-0 down to draw the game.
Game 3: Coleraine 2-1 Ballyclare Comrades (The Showgrounds, Coleraine -29.7.2017)
And so, on to Saturday when the first team players were in action in their final friendly ahead of the new season against Championship side Ballyclare. A curious afternoon weather wise, alternating between sunshine and heavy rain, this seemed an apt metaphor for Coleraine’s day. The bright spot was the performance of Joe McCready, a new signing who scored the two goals which won the game. The dark cloud was that he left the pitch on a stretcher, potentially adding to an already lengthy injury list.