Clean sheets are key for Coleraine says Oran Kearney

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney. Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Lorcan Doherty
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney. Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Oran Kearney is hoping his Coleraine side’s deensive strengths will stand them in good stead for today’s derby clash with Ballymena United.

Whilst the Bannsiders have been racking up the goals with 13 scored in their last four games, they have been equally as impressive at the other end of the pitch.

Four clean sheets on the bounce have Kearney’s men seemingly back to their Scrooge-like best again.

The Bannsiders boss is all to aware of the Sky Blues goal threat, but he knows if his side can shut them out then they will be well on their way to picking up the points.

“All we can do is to keep churning out the clean sheets and try to keep the back door shut,” said Kearney. “We must also look to create chances and be offensive and we have done that well over the last few weeks.

“It is a derby but also it is another opportunity for three points and we want to try and carry on in the form that we are in.

“It has been pleasing (to keep clean sheets), I know Chris (Johns) has had his jobs to do in games, but I thought defensively we have been really good.

“Lyndon Kane is getting stronger with every game, Adam Mullan has been exceptional and the two in the middle have been different class.

“It has been so important that we have that foundation to build on.

“In a game like the one against Dungannon last week, if we go down 1-0 after 20 minutes it makes it difficult and we maybe don’t end up with the same scenario as we did.

“It is so important that we keep those clean sheets because it gives us a platform to go and win games.”

Kearney has also been pleased with the performances from his recent acquisitions, Nedas Maciulaitis and Aaron Jarvic.

Striker Maciulaitis came off the bench to score on his debut before providing two assists on his home debut as Coleraine routed Dungannon Swifts.

One of the assists was for midfielder Jarvis, who has settled right in at The Showgrounds as well.

“The goal was great and his overall display against the Swifts was good,” Kearney said of the former Institute man.

“He got through the whole game really well but more importantly his presence and influence about the place is great.

“Already the partnership between him and Stevie (Lowry) looks as if they have played together for years and I think when you put good players together that happens.

“There are parts of Nedas’ game where he is a little raw then there are other parts where he came across really strong. But it has been a good experience for him and it gets him up and running with the club.”

One player the Bannsiders will have to keep a close eye on is Andy McGrory, who netted a hat-trick in the last derby encounter of last season, and has been impressive so far this term.

McGrory is anticipating a tight contest at The Showgrounds.

“Derbies across the country are all the same - blood and thunder, with big crowds, and this one is no different,” he said.

“Last year we came out on top in the games but Coleraine are flying high this season and although our results have been generally good we have not hit top form yet.

“It’s going to be massive - both teams are going well so hopefully it will be a good spectacle and we can continue our wee winning run.”