Conor McKendry’s magic moment ‘up there’ as Coleraine new boy rescues point
New boy Conor McKendry announced himself to the big Coleraine following by hitting a spectacular equaliser in Saturday’s Danske Bank Premiership clash with Linfield at Windsor Park.
The 22-year-old former Ipswich Town player unloaded the fiercest of shots from 20 yards that swerved and dipped before arrowing into the roof of the net, despite the desperate attempts of goalkeeper Chris Johns.
For once this season, Linfield favourite Christy Manzinga was over-shadowed.
The big French striker, who has become a massive favourite with the home fans, popped up with his usual goal - a smart finish following neat build-up between Trai Hume Stevie Fallon - for his seventh of the season.
But it was McKendry’s strike five minutes from time that totally stole the show.
He moved on to a pass from Cathair Friel and, after taking a few touches, he let rip with a thunderbolt which sparked scenes of great jubilation among the noisy visiting fans.
McKendry only moved to the Showgrounds over the summer – he was part of the deal that took Ben Doherty to Larne – but he is rapidly becoming an integral part of Oran Kearney’s well-drilled side.
“I’m really loving it at Coleraine,” said McKendry. “In this league, your main aim is to play games.
“Since Oran brought me to the club, I’ve played every game so far.
“I think I’ve done quite well...I think I can bring goals and assists to the team.
“It’s starting to all come together, the more games I get, the more confident I will become.
“I’ve managed to strike up a good understanding with Jamie Glackin, he’s a great player.
“When you play with better players, you play better yourself.
“We are both on the same wavelength and we create chances for each other.”
McKendry reckons his team’s performance deserved all three points instead of one.
“They (Linfield) probably dominated the ball for the first 10 or 15 minutes, then we got into our stride and began creating chances,” he added. “I think we were on top for long periods in the first half.
“The second half was a lot more end-to-end.
“We were disappointed we were not ahead at the break.
“But we focused on the positives because we were creating chances, Oran told us to be patient and the goals would come.
“We would have been disappointed if we hadn’t got something from the game, our performance deserved it.
“If anything, we were a little bit disappointed not to win, but we’ll take the point away from home and move on.”
And, of his goal, McKendry said: “That’s as good a goal as I’ve ever scored, it’s up there.
“I had about three or four efforts before that, which I shanked.
“There were a few people laughing at me, but I kept going and I ended up getting the goal.
“As soon as I moved on to the ball, there was only one thing on my mind and that was to shoot.
“I took a couple of touches to get me in a bit closer before I got the shot off.”
Linfield boss David Healy felt a draw was probably a fair outcome.
“Coleraine are a good side and they made it into a good spectacle,” he said. “There was never going to be that much in the game.
“It was disappointing to concede so late...and the manner of the goal.
“Normally, we are tight in the middle of the pitch, but we were caught out.
“I’ve known Conor since he was a kid and I knew of his capabilities of hitting shots with his left foot and his right.
“It was a good finish.
“Our goal was also a good finish by Christy, but we didn’t get enough at times because we were in the final third for quite a bit.
“Kirk (Millar) put in ball after ball, but they defended well.”
LINFIELD: Johns, Hume, Newberry, Callacher, Clarke, Millar, Shields, Mulgrew, Fallon (Palmer, 73), Green (Stewart, 69), Manzinga (Chadwick, 84).
Subs (not used): Walsh, Larkin, Donnelly, Salam.
COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, O’Donnell, Brown, Traynor (Mullan, 57), McKendry, Lowry, Wilson (Friel, 73), Carson, Glackin (Tweed, 89), Shevlin.
Subs (not used): Gallagher, Jarvis, Parkhill, Kelly.
REFEREE: Shane Andrews (Comber).
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