Coleraine boss Rodney McAree considers last weekend’s win at Warrenpoint Town evidence of forward progress from the final game of 2018.
The Bannsiders kick off the new year with the visit of Cliftonville, with both sides sitting level on points in the league standings.
“The big difference on Saturday at Warrenpoint, compared to previously, was the number of options on the bench,” said McAree. “Unfortunately we have lost Lyndon Kane again, which is a massive blow.
“But we were able to influence the game with our substitutions.
“We have left a tough venue like Warrenpoint with three points and a clean sheet that helps move us higher in the table in terms of points, so we need to focus on trying to catch those above us.
“We are aiming to add to the quality of the squad in January but also I’m starting to see the level of work-rate we want and associate with Coleraine.”
Cliftonville may have some of the most celebrated attacking options within the domestic game but manager Barry Gray turned his focus to defensive frailties in the aftermath of a 40th league goal conceded during Saturday’s loss to Linfield.
“The goals came at really bad times for us,” said Gray. “The big thing we spoke about at half-time was making sure we didn’t give anything away cheaply and, within a minute, it’s 2-0 and the game’s dead and buried.
“We’ve tried various permutations and combinations at the back but, whatever selection we go with, every week we seem to give away preventable goals.
“It’s not for the lack of trying from me or the players and I’m not going to hammer anyone but it’s something I seem to keep finding myself saying over and over. “I don’t remember us ever being gifted a goal like Linfield’s second.”