COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney praised his side’s resilience as they came from behind to salvage a point at Windsor Park yesterday afternoon…
The Bannsiders looked like they would leave empty handed after Christy Manzinga put the hosts ahead on 64 minutes but Coleraine would leave with a share of the spoils through Conor McKendry’s 85th minute wonder strike.
Kearney admits due to being totally immersed in the game it was hard to fully share his opinion from the sidelines but hailed his troops for hanging in there to collect a point for their efforts.
“It’s hard at times when you’re on the sideline and consumed in the game sometimes that you don’t get a gauge of what it feels like to be sitting up in the stand or what the game is like,” he said.
“I thought in the first half they possibly had more possession than us but we had two good phases of about ten minutes where we created a clatter of chances in each phase.
“There was like three or four chances after about 25 to 35 minutes, and then just before half-time, we had two or three really good chances as well but I thought they maybe had a little bit more of the ball.
“The second-half I don’t think there was a huge amount in it, there were a couple of errors on our part in the lead up to goal which are disappointing that you have to rule out on days like today that allow the chance to happen.
“The impressive thing for us is how we’ve hung in after the goal.
“With fans back, the big thing against Linfield is to stay in the game for as long as possible and hopefully the fans go against them, but equally when you go behind, our fans pick up a bit as well.
“I thought the way we managed that aspect of it was good – we stayed resilient and to be fair to Conor it’s a cracking strike and a great finish.”
McKendry’s strike was his second in two games and Kearney highlighted the midfielder’s courage to have an attempt at goal after missing with previous efforts.
“Bringing Conor to the club was the bit that held the Ben deal up,” he stated.
“When the interest in Ben was there and agents and all involved, it was quite apparent from early on the opportunity on that side of it, that it was going to happen.
“It took a further two weeks or so because we dug our heels in to say that if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen with Conor coming the other direction.
“The money no use to us as where do you spend money or how and where do you go and buy a player?
“You are seeing a lot clubs doing that now where rather than a cash deal, the importance of getting a player and particularly in that area of the pitch is vitally important.
“Conor’s perfect for us, he’s a good fit and that’s why I was so keen to get him.
“He’s been across the water, he’s all his coaching, all his game understanding, he’s a huge amount of attributes to his game.
“The big thing he needs is games, to go and learn, to make mistakes and to go and have good days, go and have bad days and go and put things into practice.
“With every week that he’s playing and knowing that’s he going to be in the team you see that he’s starting to settle and you see more and more quality.
“The resilience as a team to stay calm and to be patient and to try and get back into the game was brilliant.
“I said, more importantly for Conor, you’ve had three or four wolf whistles today – you’ve had two attempts with your right and two with your left from outside the box, which you possibly shouldn’t have taken or people questioning why you’re taking it on.
“I said to Conor that was your fifth shot of the day.
“The easy option when they chance came on your weaker foot was to pass it wide to Lyndon by you’ve shown a bit of courage and a bit of want to say I’m going to have this again.
“To me that’s the most impressive thing abut that strike.”
The Bannsiders were impressive on the eye during certain stages of the game and Kearney pin-pointed the importance of keeping hold of possession against full-time teams.
“I thought we used the ball well and it’s getting harder against the full time teams,” he revealed.
“They can produce better numbers than us physically probably and you can’t come here and sit ten men behind the ball and try and park the bus on a low block because you’ll just creak until a point where it goes.
“To get a result you’ve got to get on the ball and make passages.
“In the first half I felt they built up a bit of steam and we struggled for five or seven minutes to get out but we got some passages of play and we were as good on it.
“We’ve shown that we can move the ball well and create chances, although full-time clubs can perfect that a little bit better than part time.”
The boss paid tribute to the travelling support for their tremendous backing as the Stripes get set for a return to The Showgrounds next Saturday.
“Our fans have charged the batteries for 18 months,” he said.
“I thought today, to a man, they were outstanding.
“The noise that they made from minute one, warm-up, everything was fantastic.
“When we went behind I thought they got even better.
“If anybody deserved a goal, to travel 50 miles down the road, I think it was all those guys.
“Our away support in particular and the ones that travel have always been fantastic.
“Now that we have the venue for them to come back to I hope they come out in their droves so we can get back to that ‘fortress Showgrounds.’