Bannsiders brave the elements to pick up the win

Nice drag back from Rodny Brown during the New Year's Day win over Ballinamallard. Wk0109mb
Nice drag back from Rodny Brown during the New Year's Day win over Ballinamallard. Wk0109mb

Coleraine had to brave the elements and a resolute Ballinamallard United side to pick up another win and move level on points with Cliftonville.

Rodney Brown’s first half goal was enough to give the Bannsiders the win at a windswept Showgrounds on New Year’s Day.

The wide man struck with 19 minutes on the clock as the hosts dominated the first half with the wind at their backs.

The second half was a test of character as the Mallards used the elements to their advantage.

Coleraine stood firm though, and if truth be told they probably should have ran out more convincing winners.

“It was all about grinding out the win today,” boss Oran Kearney told Times Sport afterwards.

“We all knew the wind was going to get stronger and with it being up and down the pitch it was always going to be the proverbial game of two halves.

“It was important after they won the toss and turned us around that we got something in the first half.

“We had a couple of chances which ideally we would have liked to have taken to make the second half a little more smoother for us.

“But credit to our lads, sometimes it’s about going out and scoring and putting teams away, but sometimes it’s about holding on to what you’ve got.

“I thought today, to a man, they were fantastic.

“I wasn’t disappointed to be only one up at the break. I’ve played in games like that when it’s maybe 0-0 at half time.

“So at least we had something to hold on to in the second half.

“Obviously it would have been great to have got a second and it would have made things a bit more straightforward after the break, but it is so tough on days like this.

“We created a number of chances in the second half to kill the game off.

“I suppose with our youth it gives us a lot of energy, and we fancied it in the second half. I said to them at half time that it wouldn’t be a case of just sitting in and holding on.

“I felt with our quality on the break and the legs that we have we could cause them problems.

“We were unlucky not to score a second, we had a couple of good chances near the end especially.

“We were smart and perhaps we should have killed it off at the end, but it’s a big three points for us.

“We harp on to our young lads all the time about learning to play in this league.

“If this game was in August it would have been totally different, to play them at the start of January requires a certain mindset.

“Credit to our lads we got our goal, we dug in and we came away with the win.”

Liam Martin almost rescued a point for Ballinamallard right at the death as his cross-cum-shot veered towards the top corner, but Michael Doherty showed great agility to tip it over the bar and preserve his side’s lead.

“Michael produced a great save right at the death to make sure of the win.

“It’s one of those which starts off as a cross and ends up turning into a shot. He did well though, he moved his feet and made a great save.

“It took a lot of work to earn the clean sheet, but we know Michael will always have a save to make at some point in the game.”