FOOTBALL: Coleraine at full stretch

COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney has praised his depleted side for their hard work and commitment as they stretched their unbeaten run to four games following their 1-1 draw at Ballymena on Saturday.

Kearney admitted last week that the hardest working man at the club at the moment is physio Alan Millar as the backlog of injured players continues to mount.

Three players were forced to leave the action early against Portadown last week. And for one, defender Kyle McVey, his season looks to be over after he broke a metatarsal in his left foot.

“I feel really bad for Kyle,” Kearney told Times Sport.

“He has been one of the standout performers since I took over. He showed that he is willing to lead by example when he stepped up to take the penalty in the opening game.

“But that’s football unfortunately. Kyle’s absence has opened the door for someone else to stake a claim.

“Against Portadown both Daibhibd McIvor and Ryan Doherty were immense when they came on and the rest of the guys have dug in and performed so well in the last two games.

“We had no less than six players watching on from the stand on Saturday due to injury, because of that I think our bench was one of the youngest ever.

“So when you take everything in to accont I’m pleased that we got a share of the spoils.

“It would have been nice to have been able to hold on to our 1-0 lead and frustrate Ballymena for a bit longer.

“But the goal obviously gave them a lift and they came on stronger as the game wore on and at the end, we were happy enough to take the point.

“We were forced to take a chance on a couple of players who hadn’t trained much in the last couple of weeks because of injury.

“Aaron Black hasn’t really been able to train in the two weeks I’ve been here, so it’s a case of managing his injury and trying to get games out of him when we can.

“With Gareth Tommons being suspended, our hand was forced slightly but he put in a good shift.

“Although he and a couple of others were tiring towards the end, I felt it would have been a little unfair to throw on one of the kids on the bench for the last ten minutes.

“Given their lack of experience I felt it would have been a big ask for them to make an impact.

“We held our shape well and apart from one or two isolated incidents, Ballymena never really looked like threatening us from open play in the second half.

“At set pieces they had a few big men who caused a few problems, but had we not conceded the equaliser early in the half, I do believe we could have seen out the 1-0 victory.

“We are down to the bare bones at the minute, but as I said before, they’re in the changing room for a reason, that if they’re called upon they’re expected to do a job and I’ve been very pleased so far.

“We’re not going to stand here and make excuses, because injuries are part and parcel of football.

“The weather around Christmas hasn’t helped because there were six weeks where not much football was played and we’re paying the price now with having to catch up on games and playing three games in the last seven days.

“One of the hardest working people at the club is Alan Millar, who does a sterling job and will be very busy for the next few weeks.”

Report: Steven Crawford