Ballyclare Comrades’ pre-season preparations got off to the worst possible start when a vastly understrength team was thrashed 9-0 by Coleraine in their opening friendly.
With only one goal in it at the break, there had been no hint of the goalfest that was to follow, with four in the final eight minutes compounding the Reds’ misery.
Manager Stephen Hughes paraded three of his new signings – Dean Youle (ex-Bangor), Adam Gray (ex-Moyola Park) and Kyle Dillon (ex-Woodvale) - in his starting 11, while Adam Irwin and Ryan Sands who was guesting were on the bench.
But the Comrades proved to be no match for the Oran Kearney’s Premiership outfit and reflecting on the game Hughes said: “I had planned for our first friendly to be on 16th, but when Oran Kearney approached me about this match I took it on board on the assumption that we would be playing their reserves while their seniors would be playing Derry City. However, the Derry fixture didn’t take place, so we faced the full Coleraine side without half-a-dozen of our senior players and it was an obvious mismatch.
“Having said that, we were well in the game for the first hour until Coleraine’s superior fitness resulted in them over-running us in the final half-hour. Thankfully for Saturday’s trip to Moyola Park we will have most of our squad available, with the one obvious omission being Gary Brown who is still recovering from injuries carried over from last season. However, we should have Paddy Flood, Chris Trussell, Adam McCart, Stuart McCullough, Michael Haskins and Curtis Woods on show, but Sandy McDermott has been released,” he added.
Ballyclare Comrades: McKnight; McCauley, Getty, Youle, Shannon; McQuitty, Dobbin; O’Hanlon, Taggart, Gray; Dillon. Subs: Sands, McMullan, Irwin, McClurg.
Fixtures: Saturday, Moyola (a) 2 pm; Tuesday, Shankill United (a) 7:30 pm.
Hughes also confirmed that although the League programme commences on August 13, he expects to have a League Cup tie on August 6.