Coleraine boss Oran Kearney hailed Crusaders firepower before Saturday’s encounter at Seaview - and he was proved right come a quarter to five as the Crues put his side to the sword.
Two tremendous finishes by winger Paul Heatley in the first half put the hosts in control and further strikes after the break by Gary McCutcheon and Davy Magowan condemned the Bannsiders to a third defeat in a row.
Speaking after the game Kearney said the Crues were ‘ruthless’ as they pushed on in their assault for the league table and sent Coleraine down in to 10th place in the table.
“I’m obviously very disappointed with the result,” he told Times Sport.
“But you have to give the Crues credit as they were ruthless with their finishing. There wasn’t a lot of chances in the first half but they took the ones that came their way.
“They were two very good finishes by Heatley from half chances really, unfortunately we weren’t able to convert our half chances.
“It’s difficult for us because of the run we are on at the minute when we found ourselves two down we had a real mountain to climb.
“Credit to the lads though they kept plugging away after the break but the third goal killed it as a contest.”
So for the second week in a row Kearney watched his side concede four goals to one of the league’s title chasing teams. The Bannsiders boss knows that it’s tough to play the likes of Cliftonville and Crusaders when you are on top of your game never mind when you are missing key players and struggling for form.
“I was pleased with large chunks of our play against Cliftonville and felt we should have taken something out of the game,” he said.
“Unfortunately we came away empty handed just as we did on Saturday, but it was obviously a bit more disappointing for us against the Crues as we failed to score and didn’t really impose ourselves on the game in the way we would have liked.
“When you come up against these top teams you need to be in top form if you are going to get something from the game. We have proved that over the last couple of seasons when we’ve gone to places like Solitude and Windsor Park and came home with very good wins after great performances.
“But at the minute we are obviously struggling form wise to get a consistent run of results and we are also missing a few key players so that task is made even tougher.
“The players are very frustrated with the situation at the minute, but wejust have to keep working hard to get ourselves out of it.”
Gary Browne sat out Saturday’s defeat as he has been struggling with a knock but Kearney is hopeful he should be available for this Saturday’s tie against Warrenpoint Town.
“Gary has been struggling for the last couple of weeks after suffering a blow to his shin,” said Kearney.
“We have been patching him up over the last couple of weeks but I felt he needed a break to as we have some crucial games coming up hopefully the rest will stand him in good stead and help him get back up and going again.
“Stevie Lowry is due to go in this week for his operation so it will be good to get it done and dusted so he can start on the road to recovery. We are also hoping to get Ruairi Harkin back soon.”