COLERAINE manager Rodney McAree spoke to the press after his side were held to a 1-1 draw against Glenavon…
In a match played under windy conditions, the Bannsiders took a 20th minute lead as Eoin Bradley converted from close range after neat play by Jamie Glackin.
The Lurgan Blues made a strong start to the second-half and grabbed an equaliser as Niall Grace expertly found the top corner on 50 minutes.
Both sides would have chances to win all three points late on, and McAree was ‘slightly disappointed’ to not close the gap on fourth-placed Glenavon.
“Yeah we’re maybe slightly disappointed not to win the game,” he said.
“We probably didn’t do enough in the final third in the first half to work Johnny Tuffey.
“Our desire was very good, and obviously after the last two games against Glenavon it was important that we competed first and foremost.
“In those other games we sort of threw the towel in and were over run.
“When you look at today it’s an improvement, obviously you want to win a game of football, we haven’t done that today, but there are a lot of positives for us to take out of it.
“You get it into your head that it’s going to be one of those days when you score late on to win the match.
“We were unlucky on several occasions near the end, it was disappointing we didn’t get the winner.
“But there are a lot of things we can take into the next game.”
The boss was full of praise for his January recruits as they were all handed their league debuts, as well as Chris Johns who made a spectacular double save to deny Jordan Jenkins after the break.
“I thought Ben Doherty, Jamie Glackin and Mark Edgar all did very well,” he added.
“Ben was excellent in midfield, when he got the other side of the Glenavon midfield he drove with a purpose.
“He was unlucky, he was trying to thread things through which maybe didn’t come off today, but he has that in his locker, and it will come.
“Jamie did extremely well too. Obviously I know Jamie and he knows how I want him to play, it’s maybe easier for him to come in and settle.
“I will joke and say that’s what Chris is there for.
“Chris has been exceptional, and it’s a fantastic save.
“To save the first one then get back up and save the second, I honestly don’t know how he did it.
“He’s there to do that job, but he does it extremely well.”
The Bannsiders’ squad was stretched yesterday afternoon as several first-team players were absent through injury, but McAree hopes that a few will return sooner rather than later.
“Graham Crown is coming on well, he did a bit of running before the Glenavon game,” he continued.
“Initially we thought he’d be out for four to six weeks, but we would be hopeful he would train this week.
“We are also hopeful that Stevie O’Donnell will train at some stage this week too.
“Aaron Burns is a difficult one as it’s his Achilles, and he played for three or four games with it.
“It was niggling at him, but you appreciate that he put himself through that for you.
“But we have to get it right before we can get him back on to a football pitch.
“He’s doing a bit of straight line running, but hopefully he can step it up this week too.
“Alex Gawne went over on his ankle last week in training but I’d be hopeful he’d be okay for Friday night.
“James McLaughlin will definitely be available again.”
The boss also gave an update on the future of Darren McCauley and believes there will be a resolution in the club’s pursuit of Michael McCrudden this week.
“Hopefully over the next couple of days we’ll get a bit more clarity on the situation with Darren,” he concluded.
“It’s not ideal that we’re losing a player of his quality, but it has to be sorted out so that everyone can move forward.
“I’m also hoping to get a bit more clarity with Michael’s situation too.
“I think he’s had a conversation with another club, but again we all need to see a resolution there as soon as possible.”