Causeway Chronicle

Former Bannsider Ben the man to watch

Reds legend John Platt knows a thing or two about scoring goals!

The Cliftonville Hall of Famer banged in 99 goals in 190 appearances for the Reds over six seasons.

Forced to retire through injury, he was awarded a testimonial in 1982 against Middlesbrough when Martin O’Neill and Gerry Armstrong both wore Cliftonville’s colours.

John knows a quality centre forward when he sees one.

And the Coleraine man believes current Solitude striker Ben Wilson is the man to watch when his hometown club take on his former club at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

Platt, still idolised in North Belfast, believes the former Coleraine player can get back across the water.

Coleraine’s youngest goalscorer at 15 – he scored against Moyola Park in the North West Cup in 2017 – he has hit the ground running since switching Brighton for Cliftonville in the summer.

His double in the recent 5-0 thumping of the Bannsiders served notice of his ability.

“For me Ben is playing at least a level below his capabilities,” said John.

“I think he is only going to continue to improve.

“He has taken a massive step down. I feel he could play in the Championship.

“Players often score against certain clubs again and again, especially if they don’t learn their lessons and if Coleraine haven’t they could be in trouble.”

Platt admits the gap between part time and full time is growing and anticipates a difficult few weeks ahead for Oran Kearney’s side.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know full time players are going to be at an advantage,” added John.

“They are better prepared, have extensive practice at set pieces and each player knows their job.”

After Saturday, Coleraine face Crusaders, Larne and Glentoran in the league.

“I know they beat Glentoran recently with a brilliant win but they didn’t kick on.

“I hope I’m wrong but going by current form it’s hard to seen them picking up much from those games.

“The team is crying out for a born leader like Ivan Murray and a quality centre half like Davy Jackson.”

Given his strong links with Cliftonville, John will pay close attention to Saturday’s game.

“Part of my heart will always be with Cliftonville but I’m Coleraine born and bred and want to see the team do well.”

The Bannsiders will be without suspended Matthew Shevlin after his dismissal in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Ballymena United.

Here’s hoping somebody can step up to the mark in his absence.

Someone with the goalscoring ability of John Platt in his heyday would be nice!

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson