COLERAINE’S inability to find that all important first goal cost them again on Saturday as they went down 2-1 at home to Ballinamallard United.
The Bannsiders dominated large chunks of the game against the Mallards, who were still smarting from their heavy defeat at Portadown. But for the second week in a row Coleraine’s failure to turn their pressure in to goals cost them deaqrly as the visitors struck twice in the last ten minutes to grab all three points and leave Oran Kearney scratching his head looking for answers after the game.
“It’s a bit like ground hog day for us. For the second week in a row we’ve conceded late goals to lose a game we were well on top in,” Kearney told Times Sport.
“Like last week we’ve had more than enough chances to win the game. We’ve knocked at the door for most of the second half, hit the bar had a couple of efforts blocked or deflected behind and what I’d call an absolute stonewall penalty for handball and probably a straight red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
“All that happens at 0-0 and obviously we don’t get the penalty or the red card to go 1-0 upand probably go on to win the game. To my eyes, it’s a reckless lunge by the player to try and make himself as big as possible to block the shot and in doing that, he leaves himself open to conceding a penalty.
“We had a fair idea of how Ballinamallard would set up, after losing 11-0 last week they were always going to set up 4-5-1 and if you’d asked Whitey (Anderson) before the game if he’d take a 0-0 he’d probably have been happy with that.
“We expected them to be very compact and sit deep, but despite that we created a lot of opportunities, but if you don’t take them you leave yourself open to being hit with a sucker punch on the break and like last week that’s what has happened to us.
“The margins are very tight at this moment and with the exception of the Cliftonville game things like that don’t seem to be going for us, but I’ve been in this game long enough to know that you just have to keep your head down and keep working hard and the results will come.”
Kearney’s mood was in stark contrast to that of Mallards boss Whitey Anderson who was delighted that his side had bounced back from their nightmare at Shamrock Park.
“The players were well up for it this week,” said Anderson.
“We knew we had to get back to basics and work hard and getting our shape right, all the things we were doing well last year.
“This was especially the case in the second half. It wasn’t about tactics it was about digging in and trying to get that result.
“The criticism has hurt everyone connected to the club. But you saw the support we had here today, they sang from the first whistle to the last.
“You could see the delight on their faces at the end and we made sure the players went over and thanked them at the end because they were the ones I felt really sorry for last week.
“When we missed the penalty early on I was thinking it was going to be another one of those days. Jason usually puts them away, he didn’t today and it gave Coleraine the momentum. But thankfully Andy has come off gthe bench and won the game for us.
“It’s a great victory for us. I’m so pleased for the players and the fans who have been hurting since last week.”