Defeat difficult to take for OK
COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney admits the manner of his side’s defeat in the BetMcLean League Cup is “hard to take”…
The Bannsiders looked like securing back-to-back League Cup crowns as Matthew Shevlin and Stephen Lowry netted in the second-half, but Cliftonville would force extra-time as Joe Gormley and Paul O’Neill found the back of the net in a devastating 15-minute spell.
Coleraine would be reduced to ten men at the start of extra-time as James McLaughlin was dismissed, with the Reds taking full advantage as O’Neill and Gormley scored again either side of half-time in extra-time.
A late goal by Curtis Allen added some consolation but Kearney remarked his frustration at the two goals his side conceded that forced the extra 30 minutes.
“It’s raw and very, very hard to take at this point in time,” he said.
“You eek out a gameplan in relation to how you envisage the game going and how you go about getting a result on a day like today like you do with any cup final.
“For 65/70 minutes it was perfection in relation to how we started, how we managed the game, and in particular how we kicked on.
“The quality of the two goals we scored – how they’ll not be remembered as match winning goals in a cup final is very hard to take.
“Lyndon’s assist, Matthew’s finish and Stephen’s as well.
“In all aspects it had gone perfectly to plan in relation to how I wanted it to go.
“When we scored the second you expect a couple of strikers to be thrown on, but you’re ready for that.
“Everyone knows that the seven or eight minutes of pressure, if you see that out you can then push on and see the rest of the game out.
“We’re built for that. Cliftonville are a very technical side, generally their goals come from one-twos or little balls in behind.
“But at that stage it was kitchen sink and lobbing balls into the box, which was exactly what I wanted.
“I was going “happy days” because I felt we would eat it all up and if we could see through the next seven minutes or so then ideally we would get up and going again and see the game out.
“It’s just really frustrating. The manner of the first goal in relation to it’s a header on the edge of the six-yard box and it’s unopposed.
“I would query if it was our throw in in the build up to the second, but even at that there’s two or three balls in the box which we haven’t got a head on, which we’re built for.
“It has turned a magnificent performance up until that point in time into the opposite.”
The Stripes’ task was made more difficult as James McLaughlin was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident involving Chris Curran just one into extra-time.
Kearney stated post-match that whilst he hadn’t seen the footage of the incident back again, the task was made more difficult to get back into the game after the Reds’ late push to take the game into extra-time.
“We’re all big boys. At full time we spoke about being in this scenario before and what was needed,” he added.
“The momentum had shifted and we said that to the players, it wasn’t easy but the key thing was we weren’t out of the cup yet.
“There was 30 minutes to either go and win it or there was a penalty shootout to go and win it with as well.
“They key thing was to slowly but surely break the momentum and try and get a foothold again ideally through a bit of possession or a chance or two.
“But when the red card comes a minute into that it literally blows it apart.
“It is a momentum swing but it’s another shot in the arm for Cliftonville rather than us.
“I haven’t seen it back or spoken to James at this moment in time.
“But if he has struck the player then it’s crazy from that point of view because it makes life really, really hard for us.
“Even at that I think the third goal we concede is avoidable, but at that stage we’re into fatigue because you’re down to ten.
“I felt we could have hung in there and even if you get a penalty shootout it’s a lottery, there’s no issue in sitting tight and doing it, but his decision makes it difficult for all of us.”
The Bannsiders suffered a double blow inside the regulation 90 minutes as Matthew Shevlin and Jamie Glackin both went off injured.
“Losing Matthew and Jamie was not ideal either because when we talk about being built like a sponge and sitting deep and soaking up pressure the outlets become really important,” Kearney continued.
“Matthew was a really good outlet all day and Jamie is probably our main outlet when it comes to that style.
“What you expect there is we clear the crosses and Jamie wins the ball and is able to stride the pitch.
“Losing him at that time wasn’t ideal either as it then makes it so much harder to get out.”