COLERAINE manager Rodney McAree cut a delighted figure at full-time as he watched his side collect all three points at Stangmore Park…
The visitors took the lead on 13 minutes as James McLaughlin expertly converted from Jamie McGonigle’s delightful cross, before the advantage was doubled on 22 minutes as Stephen Lowry powered home his fourth goal of the season.
The Bannsiders were comfortable throughout and preserved their lead, with Cormac Burke also rattling the crossbar late on.
Speaking to colerainefc.com, boss McAree was full of praise for his side’s performance as they kept a clean sheet in back-to-back games.
“I thought we were excellent but to be honest I thought we started the game a little bit sloppily, we just weren’t as good in the first five or ten minutes as we were in the rest of the half,” he said.
“I thought the goal came at a good time for us.
“We got back into the game once we got that goal – it kick-started us and I thought we were excellent from then.
“We could maybe have scored one or two more.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming here – it’s my first time coming here as a manager and it’s not an easy place to come to.
“I thought defensively we were very good and our shape which we have addressed over the past couple of weeks, we’re trying to improve that side of it.
“Two clean sheets in a row which is great for Chris Johns. Over the past while we’ve maybe relied on him to pull us out of holes, the past two games we haven’t really, the boys have done the job in front of him.”
The Bannsiders were able to give a debut to Cormac Burke, with new signings Dylan King, Mark Edgar, Jamie Glackin, Ben Doherty and Dean Shiels all playing a role in the success.
However, McAree insists his entire squad are playing off a ‘level playing field’ in this moment of time.
“We’ve ended up with quite a few new signings on the pitch,” he added.
“Everybody’s playing off a level playing field at the moment.
“Just because you’ve signed players it doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to be in the team.
“Players have to make sure they’re doing their job and carrying out their responsibilities.
“If they don’t do that then we have plenty of options we can replace people with so that’s the enjoyable side of it.
“Snowy got a bit of metal in his eye at work, had to get it taken out today which hopefully is not a long-term thing.
“I thought Dylan was excellent and Big G has done really well the past couple of weeks.
“Our two full-backs were very good and our back four was exceptional.
Mark Edgar been exceptional these past couple of games and he’s got to keep that going.”
The boss admits it was unfortunate to lose Josh Carson to injury but was pleased to see Dylan King put in an impressive performance in his first start as a Coleraine player.
“We are disappointed that we have lost Josh to injury for about six to eight weeks,” he continued.
“We will do all that we can to make sure that Josh returns as fit and healthy as possible.
“I have to give Dylan King a pat on the back as he hasn’t had a training session yet.
“He’s a good player, I’ve always liked Dylan King – he’s a big strong boy, a unit to be fair, he can pass the ball well but as long as he defends well I’m happy enough.
“I was very tempted to start Dean Shiels today but we’re conscious that he probably hasn’t played a game since November.
“It’s about easing him back in at the right time and doing the right thing by him.
“Over last two games we felt waiting until the last half hour was the best thing because the game starts to open up and he gets on the ball a little bit more.
“He’s been great to have about with his experience.”
McLaughlin’s goal means the striker has scored six times in his last eight matches, and McAree is hoping to retain his services.
“I’ve had a conversation with James and we don’t want to lose him,” he concluded.
“Over the past two seasons James has probably played about ten matches due to a serious injury.
“We have to be careful with him and keep driving him to improve but he’s been great.
“His goal tonight was a great finish and we all know that James knows where the net is.
“He’s got to continue getting minutes under his belt, keep working on his fitness and doing well whenever he gets the opportunity.”