COLERAINE boss Rodney McAree admits he would have liked his players to register all three points against Linfield yesterday afternoon…
The Bannsiders looked like doing that after Dylan Davidson’s first-half strike, but the Blues earned a share of the spoils with just seven minutes remaining as Daniel Reynolds volleyed home.
Speaking after the game, McAree was full of delight to see Academy players Jack Bradley and Caleb Wan come off the bench and hopes that this will be a sign of things to come.
“We would love to have seen the game out and got the three points,” he said.
“They talk about meaningless games and what have you but there is always a point to every game.
“You want to try and win it and we are disappointed that we have not come away with the three points because you look to win every game.
“It was an excellent ball from Linfield’s Charlie Allen but defensively we can maybe do a little bit better.
“We need to anticipate that ball first and foremost but there are a lot of positives to take from it.
“I thought first half we played well and moved the ball about.
“In stages of the second half we were good and it is great to see the likes of Caleb Wan and Jack Bradley coming off the bench.
“It gives the Academy lads a bit of belief that there will be opportunities further down the line and we want to produce players and nurture young talent through to the first team panel.
“I was delighted to see Caleb Wan contesting the header in the second half.
“It is fantastic for a young lad of five foot five to be getting on the end of a corner kick which hit the crossbar.”
McAree also heaped praise on Davidson for his first strike in Coleraine colours, and once again singled out Graham Crown for his strong performance at right-back.
“For us it was an opportunity to give some players much needed game time and our preparation over the last few weeks has been for the European play-offs,” he added.
“There have been a lot of changes from game to game and boys have come in and done really well.
“I thought Graham Crown done really well at right back and Aaron Canning was excellent in midfield so there are a lot of things to take away from the game.
“It has been hard for Dylan Davidson.
“He was cup tied when he joined the club and it has been very stop start for him and it has been difficult to get him going.
“I know the lad is very talented and I thought he had hit his effort too early when there was so much space in front of him.
“It was a fantastic finish and I was delighted for him.
“He has a great left foot and it has been tough for him since coming home from Preston North End.
“Dylan has had to adjust to life in the Irish League and when he was at Glentoran he maybe did not get as many opportunities as he would have liked.
“He is a young lad and if we can get his confidence back and a smile on his face then I have no doubt that the club will reap the reward of that.”
The Stripes are not in action next weekend due to the Irish Cup final, but McAree warns that the players’ routine ‘will not change’ in the lead up to the European play-off.
“At this moment in time it looks like we will play Cliftonville, if Crusaders lift the Irish Cup,” he added.
“We have to prepare for that but our routine does not change.
“We will train Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and the routine does not change – the boys will be one hundred percent ready and prepared to go to Solitude looking for victory.
“Playing there should suit us and we went there recently and played well even though we conceded poor goals.
“It is a surface we are familiar with because we train on it but I think we have done well at home so it is not all bad.
“Our pitch here has improved and if you were to ask me if I wanted to play home or away I would say home because the supporters deserve that.
“It is two cup finals and we must not look beyond the first game because if we do not win that then there will not be a second game so we need to make sure we are ready to hit the ground running.”