Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

COLERAINE captain Stephen O’Donnell admits the squad have forgiven Eoin Bradley for his dismissal last weekend and targets a vital three points against in-form Warrenpoint Town tomorrow afternoon…

Looking back on last week’s result, I think it speaks volumes about us as a group and a club that we were disappointed not to take all three points. The boys deserve a huge amount of credit for that. The opportunity was there through our hard work in the second half. Regardless of the fact that we were down to 10 men, we looked like the better team and the only one who really wanted to push on and win the game. Again I think it shows the amount of respect the club and this team has gained over the last 18 months that teams are setting up for, or are happy to play for a point at The Showgrounds. For us it was frustrating not to win the game but again I think there were a lot of positives and things to learn from that we can take from it.

I think particularly in the first half we tried to play in a similar way to the week before against Linfield. We tried to again move the ball through the thirds of the pitch and get our attacking players on the ball in good areas. That didn’t work as well as we would have liked in the first half. Glentoran made it more difficult for that to happen and they were set up well. The pitch is obviously smaller at The Showgrounds and the surface was heavy on Saturday. They’re not excuses for going in one nil down at half time, but just an insight into why we weren’t able to be as fluid as we were the week before. For us, the challenge moving forward is being able to break teams down and remain patient when that happens. We also moved the ball too slow in the first half and that allowed Glentoran to get behind the ball in numbers. This then caused some of our attacking players to come deep and get the ball, which in turn meant that they were less effective in the final third of the pitch, simply because they weren’t getting the ball in the final third. I’m sure anyone who was at the game could see that, but it’s something we can improve on going forward. Coming up with solutions to allow us to break teams down in more than one way. All that being said, the second half was a real hard working and gritty performance that I think we can be pleased with. Down to 10 men and we pushed for the game. The gaffer deserves credit in the way he set the team up for the second half and Darren and Adam were both asked to put in huge shifts at right and left wing backs, both of who were brilliant in the second half. Darren has maybe had a slow start to the season in comparison to last season. But I firmly believe that over the last 6 weeks he has started getting back into his rhythm and showing that fantastic quality that he has. He has the ability to light up games and produce a bit of magic and hopefully he can continue to perform at that level all season. We’ll need him for that if we are to be successful. The performance in the second half showed how hard we are willing to work for each other and for Rodney. The last few weeks things have really started to click into gear and I feel it was important that we kept that momentum going by getting a result on Saturday.

It was disappointing to come in at half time down to 10 men and Skinner has apologised to the boys for a stupid mistake and something he knows he shouldn’t have got caught up in. I’ve mentioned before that Skinner is a big part of our changing room and big player for us. We seen his value last week against Linfield. When he plays well, it allows us to get up the pitch and play well as a team. Unfortunately on Saturday he got caught in something stupid and let the boys down. But Skinner is honest enough to admit when he’s wrong and that’s one of the reasons the boys love him. He made a mistake but we managed to dig in for him and get a result. That can happen from time to time and that’s when you are relying on your team mates to do you a favour. I’ve seen and heard a few people giving off, but it was a mistake, an error in judgement. It can happen and we don’t hold that over him, he’s a top player and a top lad as well. So for us its done, we move on. We look forward to having him back in the squad and available for selection as soon as possible.

The performance in the second half showed how hard we are willing to work for each other and for Rodney.

Looking forward to this week and we travel to Warrenpoint. After a difficult start, they have only lost two of their last 10 games. Straight away that should remove any complacency or any arrogance when looking at the game. It’s important that we prepare well, which we have done this week, and make sure that we leave no stone unturned to get three points. For me the three points up for grabs on Saturday are just as important as the three points up for grabs against Crusaders or Linfield. If we want to be successful and put a run of results together we have to win on Saturday. Yes our squad is thin, we’re light due to suspensions and injuries, but this group has done this before. We know what it’s like and we know how to grind out results. If we can reach the performance levels of the second half on Saturday and the previous week, I have no doubt we can get all three points on Saturday. I know it’s a long trip for you as fans, but hopefully we can get a good vocal support down and get good away performance and a win to top it off.

Finally, congratulations to Snowy who has signed a new deal with the club. Without a doubt its well-deserved as he has been fantastic since re-joining the club. I know there were a few eyebrows raised when Snowy was re-signed, for one reason or another, but he has been brilliant since coming in. His performances have been top drawer and he has fitted into the changing room as though he’s been with the group for years. The biggest compliment that I can pay him is that he cruises around the pitch and makes it look so easy. He’s a top player and a good lad who all the boys love. Congrats again Snowball, here’s to 234 and counting.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell