Back-to-back wins and clean sheets have left Coleraine knocking on the door of the top six and full of confidence for the forthcoming games.
Saturday’s victory over Portadown showed just how full of confidence the Bannsiders are at the minute.
They dominated proceedings from the first whistle to the last, and if truth be told Oran Kearney’s men could have won by an even greater margin.
Coleraine scored two very good goals, hit the woodwork twice and forced David Miskelly into several top drawer saves as they put Ronnie McFall’s side to the sword.
At the other end of the park the snuffed out any threat from Portadown’s high-profile strike force. Oran Kearney was full of praise for his defence as teenage full back Lyndon Kane and Adam Mullan looked so asssured alongside experienced campaigners David Ogilby and Stephen Douglas.
Kearney was also delighted with skipper Howard Beverland, who set the tone for the Bannsiders dominance leading by example in his new defensive midfield role.
“Howard is loving it in the middle and I’ve always said that I’d love to play him in there, but we just haven’t been in the position to do that up until now,” Kearney told Times Sport after the game.
“David (Ogilby) has really stepped up to the mark over the last couple of months and Stephen (Douglas) the same, it has allowed us that wee bit of flexibility to maybe experiument with Howard.
“I really do feel there is a role for him in midfield. It’s maybe raised a few eyebrows but I feel Howard can play centre half when he’s in his thirties.
“He has a lot to offer in the lead up to that. He has been about the league a long time, he has loads of experience and he’s not a bad footballer either which enough people dont give him credit for.
“I thought he went about his business manfully again today and it gives us that wee bit of steel in there to compliment the other players.
Teeangers Kane and Mullan followed their captain’s example and certainly didn’t look out of place against a very experienced Portadown side.
“It takes great courage from us as a club to throw them in but it also takes great courage from them to come to places like this and set their stall out and to play with that freedom,” said Kearney.
“You couldn’t speak higher of Adam, but I suppose the main focus now is maybe on Lyndon as he is maybe 20-odd games behind Adam as he is just starting out.
“As a manager you’re always thinking how can you throw a kid in, or where can you throw a kid in, but it has probably just got to the point where we just say stuff it we’re just throwing him in.
“There aren’t any easy games in this league if you are looking to blood young players. If you’re going to be good enough to play in this league then you have to be good enough to play against any of the teams in it.
“I’m delighted not only for the three points and the clean sheet, but really for the manner of the performance.
“That’s Lyndon’s second appearance for the club today and he got through it with consumate ease, and Adam produced another top drawer performance like we’ve come to expect.”
The Bannsiders made the perfect start scoring within 90 seconds of the kick off.
Kearney had impressed on his players before the start just how vital it was to get off to a good start.
“When you come to places like this how you start a game is very important and the first goal is vital,” said Kearney.
“To be fair to Mark it was a very good finish. With a chance like that it’s not a one touch finish, he’s had to take about three touches and hos third touch in particular to set him up was very good and allowed him to finish.
“Credit to Mark he’s had bits and pieces of flak, but he has bought in to what we’re trying to do and I’m very pleased with him.
“At half time, for as much as we knew we would create more chances in the second half, we spoke about the clean sheet.
“I told them not to fear about having to win the game 1-0, it wasn’t a case about having to go looking for that goal.
“But we hung in the game well and we managed it well, we kept creating chances and then killed it off.”
Coleraine entertain north west rivals Institute this Saturday with Kearney determined to make amends for a disappointing display at the Riverside Stadium earlier this term.
“The last few weeks have been very good for us, Institute though will be as tough as it was today,” he said.
“They play a good brand of football and they have caught a few teams out this year and it will be another hard one to deal with.
“We were very disappointed when we played up there at the start of the season and we would like to put that right.
“Hopefully we can give another good account of ourselves.”
Kearney is hoping Adam Mullan’s injury will not rule him out of the game against ‘Stute.