Kearney pleased with the response of his young players

Coleraine's James McLaughlin heads his side into a 1-0 lead. 'Picture by Press
Coleraine's James McLaughlin heads his side into a 1-0 lead. 'Picture by Press

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney was left contemplating what might have been as he watched his side concede a late equaliser to Crusaders.

It looked as though James McLaughlin’s second half header was going to seal the points for the Bannsiders, until Stephen O’Flynn stooped to head the sides level in the 89th minute.

It was hard on this young Coleraine side who deserved to take all three points against the league champions, who were reduced to nine men following the dismissals of Paul Heatley and Jordan Forsythe.

Kearney though was quick to praise his young charges for they way they bounced back from last week’s defeat at Glenavon.

“I’ve just said to the boys that feels a bit like a loss,” he told Times Sport.

“For having defended set-pieces so well all day, and for being as resolute as we were, especially from a straight ball, it’s different if it comes from an angle and people can run at it, it’s so disappointing.

“To be fair to Aaron Canning he’s held his hand up in the dressing room and admitted he thought it was going out of play, that’s why he left it.

“He didn’t even compete for the ball he just left it as he thought it was going out.

“It puts a dampner on what was a very positive day for the club.

“We had a tough week last week and we wanted to put that right, and I think to be fair to the lads and give them credit we have done that.

“It’s well documented we have a lot of young lads playing so to take the league champions on today, and in the manner that we took them on with such inexperience is the bit which pleases me the most.

“We have filled our boots with young lads this season, they are local lads as well which is important to me and imporatnt to the club as well.

“It’s been a long time since this club has had a real local identity and I think it makes a difference to the people in the stands and it makes a difference on the pitch as well.

“There’s still plenty of work to do, there’s a lot of inexperience there, but in the same stretch if they keep pushing on like the way we did today we’ll make good progress.

“I was hard on the players last week, and I needed to be. As much as it’s a learning curve I just so wanted to be standing at the end of the game lauding that we had turned over the league champions with five or six teenagers.

“They would have deserved to have won the game for what they have come through in the last week.

“It feels like a 4-0 defeat, but obviously it’s not.

“Credit to Crusaders with nine men to keep going and to get something out of the game that’s why they are champions.”

It’s Portadown up next for Kearney and his young guns and the Bannsiders boss knows how important consistency is in the Irish League.

He said he would be impressing on the players this week that they cannpt afford to rest on their laurels following their preformance against the Crues.

“We proved over the last two games what happens when you don’t turn up as opposed to what happens when you do,” he said.

“We know we have to keep that going next week at Portadown and produce the same sort of performance as we have done today.”