Match Preview

Laying blocks the focus for OK

ORAN Kearney is hoping that the Bannsiders can continue the momentum gained from their last three games ahead of tomorrow’s derby against Ballymena United…

The Stripes have picked up maximum points from their last two Sports Direct Premiership fixtures against Glenavon and Newry City, as well as reaching the second round of the BetMcLean Cup after edging out Bangor.

The victories were a timely boost after two successive defeats to Cliftonville and Crusaders, with Kearney believing his side have laid a “first block” in terms of recent results.

“It’s a wee bit of momentum,” he said after the 2-0 success at the Newry Showgrounds.

“The important thing was coming out the end of that and the other side of it strongly.

“I would have said against Glenavon we laid a foundation and last Friday evening at Newry was about laying the first block where we’ve had that blip or call it what you want.

“It’s important you come out of it strong the other side, not just for the performance against Glenavon, but to go and back it up last Friday.

“Ideally, to back up Friday night we want to go and do the same tomorrow.”

Coleraine would have to come from behind on the opening night of the season to inflict a 2-1 defeat on their derby rivals as Matthew Shevlin netted either side of half-time.

Kearney – not for the first time this season – also acknowledged the contribution of Conor McKendry who netted a second successive brace in the win against Newry City.

“It was very tough game on the opening night of the season,” he reflected.

“To be fair to Jim, he has them working hard and well drilled.

“Added to that, it’s a derby so for us it’s about getting another week behind us and go into it as fresh as possible.

“The thing that I’ll always look for and drive from Conor is trying to do better than what he did last season.

“We are starting to see that from Conor, he’s possibly ahead with the goals than what he weighed in with last season and he’s had plenty of assists.

“It’s moving in the right direction but it’s not one we are going to get carried away with and Conor won’t either.

“He’s very hard working, a pleasure to have around the place and ideally we want to keep his head down and keep working at it.”