IRISH LEAGUE: Coleraine captain Howard Beverland refusing to panic following recent run of poor results

Coleraine captain Howard Beverland
Coleraine captain Howard Beverland

Howard Beverland is refusing to press any panic alarms following Coleraine’s recent run of results.

The Bannsiders saw their JBE League Cup hopes dashed by Ards on Tuesday night – losing out on penalties against the Championship 1 underdogs.

The semi-final agony followed successive Danske Bank Premiership defeats that stalled the club’s relentless assault up the table.

It has been a frustrating fortnight for manager Oran Kearney, ironically coming hot on the heels of his Manager of the Month success in November.

Club captain Beverland admits the triple whammy was a bitter pill to swallow, but the defender insists the mood in the camp remains positive.

“Of course, losing those three games is disappointing, but the level of performance has been pretty good,” he said.

“We have been undone by set-pieces, which is definitely something we have to work on.

“But we weren’t outclassed or hammered by Linfield or Glenavon, and we lost on penalties to Ards.

“We just have to learn from our mistakes and push on to the next game. We are third in the table, and if you had offered us that in mid-December we would have taken your arm off.”

Coleraine currently sit on 39 points this term – just seven shy of their total for all of last season.

It has been a remarkable campaign for Beverland and his team-mates – one they hope can start gathering momentum once again.

On Friday night they travel to champions Crusaders looking to get their season back on track, while a massive derby showdown with Ballymena United lies in wait on Boxing Day.

“They are all huge games for us – but all our focus is on Crusaders on Friday,” Beverland said.

“People might think going to the home of the champions is the last place Coleraine want to be visiting following three defeats, but we are relishing it.

“Sometimes the bigger the game, the bigger the response from players. So this is a great game to get stuck into.

“We can’t get too downbeat. We are third in the table going into Christmas and the New Year. We have done remarkably well this season.

“Every club has a sticky patch, and maybe this is our rough period. Hopefully it is just a blip.”

Beverland is struggling with a calf injury ahead of Friday’s trip to Seaview, picked up in last week’s defeat to Glenavon – when he was also sent off.

The 25-year-old admits he would love to be involved against the champions, and has predicted a tough test against Stephen Baxter’s side.

“People talk about Crusaders being route one and very direct, and they can be. Clubs know what to expect, but Crusaders still do it very well,” Beverland added.

“They can also play good football. You don’t win a title and other cups from being one-dimensional.

“It is a massive test for us, but the players are up for it and can’t wait.

“We want to get back on track as quickly as possible.”