smash and grab

Neil McCafferty on the attack''. photo:Derek Simpson
Neil McCafferty on the attack''. photo:Derek Simpson

It was a frustrating day for Coleraine as they slipped to defeat at the hands of Ballymena United on Saturday but for it was very different reasons.

The Bannsiders dominated proceedings at The Showgrounds and created numerous opportunities.

But in the end they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of their derby rivals.

Gary Thompson put the Sky Blues in front against the run of play. Gary Browne levelled things up just after the hour mark.

But with 13 minutes to go Michael Ruddy headed in to give Ballymena an unlikely three points.

It was very harsh on the Bannsiders who had four shots cleared off the line and also had a couple of decent shouts for a penalty turned away.

It was cold comfort for Oran Kearney though who admitted he would rather have watched his side play badly and take the win.

“Football is about scoring goals...simple as,” Kearney told Times Sport after the game.

“You have to put the ball in the back of the net Ballymena did that twice today and we only did it once.

“We created a lot of chances today and there was lots of oohs and ahs, but we only have one goal to show for it and that’s why we have lost.

“The two goals we conceded today were from set pieces, which was disappointing from our point of view.

“I can’t fault our players today though. It’s frustrating because after losing you want to go in and rip shreads off the wall, but I cannot fault their attitude, their work rate, their endeavour, all the ingredients you ask them to bring to it on a Saturday.

“That was there against Cliftonville last week and it was the same again today, the difference was we couldn’t take our chances today. We created so many we probably should have been two or three up by the time Ballymena scored.

“That’s football though, you have to strike when you are on top.

“I’ve stood here many times after games and talked about the importance of taking your chances. We have to learn those lessons.

“For us having played so well for the first chunk of the game we were knocked off our stride a bit when they scored. It’s human nature that the heads will go down for a small period of time.

“But we rallied at half time and came out and got going again. It would have been easy to say it was going to be one of those days as we had four chances cleared off the line, but credit to the lads they kept going and got the goal they deserved.

“It was a good ball by Adam Mullan to Gary Browne and he finished it well.

“I’m disappointed what happened after that, when the release was there after we got our goal we kicked on a bit, but just not as much as you would have wanted to.

“It took us a while to get our second wind and get going again.

“We were hit with a sucker punch in the closing stages as they scored again and we found it hard to pick ourselves up again.

“It’s not really surprising when you take into account how the game went for us. Mentally if you put yourself through the story we’ve just told in relation to the players’ experience on the pitch today it takes a big man to be able to step up and go again.

“We had a couple of wee forays. I thought the Darren McCauley incident was a stone wall penalty.

“He did the defender with a bit of skill and from where I was standing there looks to be a strong grab of the shirt.”

Despite not picking up any points Kearney was pleased with the level of his performance his side showed again.

They followed up last week’s excellent win at Cliftonville with another positive display, the only thing which was missing was that killer edge.

“We’ve picked up three points in the last two games, but our performance today was as good as it was last week,” he said.

To me that’s the challenge for the players, next week we have to go out again and hit those same performance levels, then we just need that wee bit of quality to put the ball in the back of the net when we get our opportunity.

“Nobody means to miss a chance, but those are the fine arts we have to keep practising to make sure that when we do get the opportunities we’re ruthless.”

Captain Howard Beverland shared his manager’s frustration at the end.

“There’s huge frustration aming the guys because of the nature of the goals we conceded,” said Beverland.

“When it comes to set pieces it’s very much man against man, you have your own individual battle to win as we’re all assigned roles.

“We switched off for the two goals and we were punishedfor that was the only real opportunities they created.

“We have to let it go and concentrate on the next game now and make sure we do all we can as a team to make things right,” added the skipper.