BALLYCLARE Comrades completed their preparations for the new Championship 1 season with a highly respectable draw away at Coleraine.
Neither side managed to break the deadlock in an entertaining tussle between one of the Premier Division’s top six, and the Comrades who have just gained promotion to the second tier.
During the opening quarter Comrades were on the back foot, but with Getty and skipper Doyle impressive at the heart of the defence, keeper Paddy Flood was not seriously tested.
Gradually, the Reds began to make inroads towards the home goal where Kyle Agnew and Ricky Higgins both fired half-chances wide.
Early in the second session Wayne Drummond did well to deny the lively Agnew at the expense of a corner, but in a quick counter-attack former Glentoran winger Stephen Carson smashed against the post with Flood well beaten.
Adam Gray then forced Drummond to make two fine saves, and in the closing stages the keeper did well to grasp a Jonny Harkness free-kick, before tipping over Daniel Smith’s effort in the 83rd minute.
Reflecting on the game, Reds’ manager Hill said: “I was delighted to get a draw against such high-profile opposition. They put out their strongest available side and it was our most difficult match to date, but the work-rate of our lads was fantastic. They were carrying on from the form that they showed at the end of last season when we clinched the title with seven straight wins, and that is good enough for me. Long may it continue.
“Overall, I thought we created more scoring chances than they did, and their keeper pulled off three great saves, while Paddy Flood had less to do.”
With so many players unavailable for this weekend’s opening league game against Donegal Celtic match, Hill gave coach Stuart McClean a run-out, but Chris Trussell had to sit this one out with a foot injury. However, the boss is hoping he will be declared fit for Saturday.
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood; Doherty, Getty, Doyle, Harkness; Agnew, McClean, McCart, Simms; R Higgins, McClurg. Subs: Cooper for Getty 35’, McGowan for McCart 46’, Gray for Simms 46’, Smith for McClurg 46’, McAlea, for McClean 46’.