Match Reaction

OK: “Big parts of the performance were bang on”

COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney admits his side met “an inspired goalkeeper” as they were beaten by Crusaders at Seaview…

The Bannsiders would create several opportunities in both halves but were undone as Philip Lowry’s strike on 26 minutes ultimately settled matters.

Despite being disappointed at coming out on the wrong end of the scoreline, Kearney took full responsibility for the goal that his side conceded as he named an unfamiliar back four.

“We said it after the game that it is rare that we come here and have as many chances as we’ve created.

“We’ve had some good results here over the years but big parts of the performance tonight were bang on.

“We’ve created more than enough chances but sadly we met an inspired goalkeeper tonight.

“It was a switch off from a quick free-kick that led to their goal.

“I’ll take responsibility for that because we’ve probably three out of a back four playing in positions that they don’t normally play in.

“I thought all four them did extremely well in relation to the conditions, the environment and everything they were put into.

The Bannsiders made three changes to their starting line-up as Rodney Brown, Lyndon Kane and James McLaughlin made way as they were one caution away from missing Sunday’s League Cup final.

Kearney acknowledged that this left him in a surreal position as he tried to manage the squad, whilst also looking to pick up points in their quest to climb the table.

“Sadly, and it is rare we are in a scenario like this, but we have to protect and look after players,” he added.

“Cup finals are hard to come by, they are big events which people enjoy and get a huge amount out of.

“I would find it hard to live with myself for putting someone out of that by playing tonight or put them in a scenario of running the risk of collecting a yellow card.

“We just couldn’t do that and it wouldn’t have been fair.

“Rodney Brown came on for 15 minutes and my only instruction was to not touch anybody and the instruction to James McLaughlin was exactly the same.

“It’s surreal one because whilst you are managing all that, you are also trying to pick up points to move up the league.”

The Stripes will look to bounce back in emphatic fashion as they get set for the showpiece decider against the Reds at Windsor Park.

Despite losing three out of four contests against Cliftonville so far this campaign, Kearney knows his players have what it takes to bring home the silverware yet again.

“We are hugely excited,” he continued.

“Big parts of tonight, like last Friday, we are creating chances and playing well but it’s just a lapse that’s cost us badly.

“We have just got to polish those tidy bits and ensure that that doesn’t happen.

“But have we got it in us? Absolutely we have got it in us.

“We are all looking forward to the event, we can’t wait, it’s on a Sunday which is different, by all accounts there’s going to be a big crowd which is brilliant.

“We are excited about it and we can’t wait to give it a good rattle.

“We have a load of tickets sold and everything else.

“My big memories of all Cup finals we have played over the years, even the one we lost to Linfield before winning the next two, the fans have been outstanding and brilliant.

“Particularly up there, it’s a big environment, we need the noise and we need the players to buzz off that.”