MAKING PROGRESS

GOING CLOSE...Curtis Allen shoots for goal against Kilmarnock. �2011 Derek Simpson
GOING CLOSE...Curtis Allen shoots for goal against Kilmarnock. �2011 Derek Simpson
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COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney praised his players efforts following Saturday’s friendly at home to SPL side Kilmarnock.

The Bannsiders went down 2-0 to Kenny Shiels side, but Kearney was more than pleased with his side’s performance.

“It was a super work out for us,” he told Times Sport after the game.

“It certainly beats running round a training pitch that’s for sure.

“Kilmarnock’s season starts two weeks today and I think it showed, especially in the final 20 minutes when they really kicked on.

“But you’d fully expect that. Up until that point though we were competing well with them.

“I think we created about nine or ten chances throughout the game, which I’m very pleased with.”

Several new faces took to the field for the first time as Coleraine players. The new striking partnership between Curtis Allen and Stephen Parkhouse showed a lot of promise, mush to Kearney’s delight.

“The front two did really well,” said Kearney.

“If anything I think Curtis was maybe a wee bit too keen. But it’s understandable as it was his first home game.

“But they linked up really well. Stephen is proving to be a really good foil for Curtis as I expected him to be.

“It’s early days for them but they are showing some promising signs already.”

Kearney was also pleased with trialist Darren McAuley, and he revealed he hopes to make a decision about his future soon.

“I’m very pleased with what he did today,” he said.

“We kept him on a bit longer today to get a good look at him.

“Darren has a real physical presence about him but he can also play a bit too.

“We’ll give it another few days before making a decision. We have to make sure it’s right for us and right for him too.”

McAuley put on a dominant display in midfield. He combined with Ryan McIlmoyle to help create the first opening of the game as Curtis Allen was sent clear, but the striker’s shot ended up the wrong side of the upright.

The visitors almost broke the deadlock on 29 minutes as Gary Harkins stole possession off Howard Beverland on the edge of the box.

His shot beat Michael Doherty but cannoned off the inside of the post.

At the other end Spratt and Allen went close before Killie’s new boy Paul Heffernan coolly finished six minutes before the break after Dayton’s through ball had sent him clear.

Sub keeper Gavin Cullen had an eventful start to the second half.

He made a great save to deny Dayton from a free kick on 51 minutes, but he failed to keep out Harkins close range header two minutes later.

Both sides introduced a number of substitutes and one of them, Ryan Doherty almost carved out a goal for the Bannsiders.

He crossed for Allen, but his glancing header went agonisingly wide of the far post as Kilmarnock held on to their two-goal advantage.

The result meant Kilmarnock finished their tour of Northern Ireland unbeaten.

“It’s been a good trip,” Shiels told Times Sport.

“It’s important that we use the games for conditioning and not look at the scoreboard.

“You obviously like to win matches, but the scoreline is not the most important thing.

“We have been working more on possession rather than penetration. But we will be concentrating more on penetration the closer we get to the new season.”