COLERAINE may have extended their unbeaten run over rival Ballymena United to 14 games on Saturday, but for Oran Kearney the only statistic which mattered was that his side didn’t win the game.
At half time that seemed very unlikely. The Bannsiders had put in a dominant first half display and were well on top thanks to a great strike from Eoin Bradley on his first league start, and an absolute cracker from Stephen Carson.
Even as the game progressed in the second half Coleraine looked the most likely team to score next. But after Carson crashed another super free kick off the woodwork the game changed as the Bannsiders inability to secure a clean sheet came back to haunt them as Johnny Taylor headed home from two corners inside five minutes of each other leaving Kearney fuming on the touchline.
“I said to the bench ‘we need a third, we need a third’ to put it to bed,” he said after the game. “At 2-0, we always know in football, that’s it’s nearly worse than 1-0 because at 1-0 it gives you more of an edge, but at 2-0 it can give you that turning point.
“I think 2-0 in a lot of games would be enough but in a derby one you’re always wary.
“We played some great stuff but we’ve only a point to show for it because of individual errors. Momentum is probably the most important word in football.
“Just two corners give you a totally different mindset of a weekend. I can start to look into that and think about it but when you step back it’s two corner and two men haven’t marked a man and it’s ironic it has happened twice in a week.
“In my career I never practised a corner once and never had to be told to mark a man, to me it’s very simple – you get goalside, you get tight and if the ball comes anywhere in your area you win it or challenge it.
“Everybody is always on about the unbeaten record - my Twitter this week was people trying to rattle home this record for but for me it’s all about the day and the past is the past.
“I just wanted three points, I don’t care how many games it is. It was Gary Browne and Eoin Bradley’s first derby match, so what will it matter to them how many we’ve been unbeaten before?
“But fair play to Ballymena, with the mental scars they probably have from that record, when they go 2-0 down the easiest thing for a lot of them would be to hide but you have to say they showed a lot of character to get back in the game.”
Kearney was disappointed his side were denied a penalty late in the first half when Gareth Tommons was fouled in the box by Ruddy.
“Gareth was clipped as he went to shoot, it was for me 100% a penalty,” said Kearney.
“To be fair to Tommo, he has saw the keeper out of the goal and an excellent chance to shoot, so he has gone for the shot, but that’s made it easier for the referee to not give anything because it’s a clear penalty and a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
“Perhaps if that had been given, the game would have turned out differently. Same goes for Carsie’s second free kick, a few inches lower and it’s 3-0 and there’s no way Ballymena were coming back from that.
“It was a crazy game, but it’s not the first time where we’ve played a team off the park this season and ended up having to settle for a draw.”