COLERAINE have further added to their squad ahead of the new Dankse Bank Premiership season with the signing of defender Stuart McMullan, who impressed in two friendlies while on trial at The Showgrounds.
McMullan, who is from Ballymoney, signed a two-year deal with the Bannsiders after featuring in their final two warm-up matches, scoring a fine goal in the 5-1 win over H&W Welders.
Manager Oran Kearney believes signing the versatile defender is an excellent piece of business for the club.
“Stuart was a very highly-rated youth player at Ballymoney, but just as he was about to establish himself in the first team, he moved to Liverpool for university. He kept playing over there and has turned out for Heswall and Prescot Cables, both clubs at a decent level in non-league football.
“He has returned home after graduating and I was keen to get a look at him to see how he would fit in. He has done extremely well in the two games he has played so far and is definitely someone who can continue to develop further.
“He ticks a lot of boxes for us in that he’s a local lad, still young, versatile and very good with the ball at his feet, which is important for the style of football we’re looking to play.”
The club are awaiting international clearance, which should hopefully be received before the end of the week, allowing McMullan to join the squad for Saturday’s match with Crusaders.
McMullan featured for the Bannsiders in their final friendly on Monday nightmare ahead of the league opener.
A four goal haul for striker Mark Gillan helped Coleraine inflict a comprehensive 7-1 defeat on neighbours Portstewart.
Despite manager Oran Kearney choosing to give a few key players a night off ahead of that match, it was still a strong Coleraine team which lined up, which made it all the more surprising that Portstewart scored first. The defence was caught flat-footed and Gavin Cullen beaten by a well-executed lob.
But the home side’s lead didn’t last long, David Scullion levelling the scores by heading in Ryan McIlmoyle’s cross. Scullion completed a quick turnaround in the scoreline when Kyle McVey’s cross was missed by the goalkeeper and he bundled the ball in at the far post. Stephen Lowry added a third and then Gillan got his first goal for the club with a cool finish from a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
The former Ballymoney United striker then added a fifth before the break as he headed home another McIlmoyle cross from a well-worked short corner.
Coleraine made a number of changes in the early part of the second half, but continued to dominate. Gillan completed his hat-trick after a sumptuous through-ball from Lee Colligan and then rounded off the scoring with an excellent header from sub Craig Moore’s cross.