It was a frustrating day all round for Coleraine as their recent four-game unbeaten run came to an end at home to Dungannon Swifts on Saturday.
Finding themselves two goals down at the break the Bannsiders never really recovered and only had Gary Browne’s late goal to show for their efforts.
It was a missed opportunity to close the gap on the teams above them, who were all playing each other.
“We are very disappointed with the result, we have been on a good run of form of late,” Oran Kearney told Times Sport after the game.
“It probably took us until half time to get started today, we had a good go in the second half, but in this league in particular when you leave yourself with a two-goal deficit to turn around it can make it a very hard day for you and so it proved.
“For as bad as the first half was the pivotal moment was probably Neil’s penalty. You talk about momentum in games, we were coming into a very negative half time dressing room, whereas if the penalty goes in it’s 2-1 and it’s game on and it changes the whole outlook of the game.
“But Neil has been brilliant for us this season and he has won us so many points with free kicks and whatever else. Michale Doherty has kept numerous clean sheets this year and has been a massive help in the turnaround at our club in relation to how things have gone.
“So on days like today you’re disappointed for those guys with the wee mistakes, but in the same stretch that’s football and they’ve been there on the other side of things to help us gain three points.
“The free kick is what it is, 99 times out of 100 Michael collects that without any problem, it’s just a freak one. It shook us, we had started the game really well and probably should have went 1-0 up, but we did struggle for 15 or 20 minutes after we conceded.
“Maybe it was because we hadn’t conceded in quite a while, but it did take us a while to get to grips with the game again.
“The second one is another dagger to the heart, but the penalty on half time is the one which can give us a real momentum to get back into the game.
“There is always the hope that you’re going to get back into the game. We created a few chances, but it was one of those frustrating days when they are taking time to restart the game, which is fair enough.
“I’ve so much time for ‘Murph’ and you could see that today in his team’s performance.
“I told the lads before the game that out of the run of the last five or six games this would be the toughest one we have had, because I know what they would bring to it in relation to where they are at in the table.
“We’ve been there in the past and we know a team down there needs the points more than a team up at the top of the table.
“We huffed and puffed for large parts of the game, but when you give away the goals we have it leaves it a very tough day.
“Goals change games but we had plenty of time to get back into the game, we just had to setle down and get going again, but on the pitch it was like a shockwave.
“It brought about bits and pieces of jitters and whatever else. I don’t know where the nervousness came from, thankfully the little run of resluts we’ve had have pulled us away from that bottom part of the table.
“For me it’s more stressful being down there than being up near the top of the league.”