Belfast Telegraph

McLaughlin is hungry to make up for lost time, says Kearney

Coleraine 3 - Ards 1

By Paul Burrows

James McLaughlin marked his return from injury with the security strike that helped Coleraine maintain their winning run at Ards' expense.

The Bannsiders made it six victories on the spin thanks, in part, to McLaughlin's 84th-minute finish that put paid to any hope of a fightback from the visitors.

"It's been six long weeks in recovery but James is eager to pick up where he left off," said manager Oran Kearney.

"James is a real predator in the box and wears the No.9 shirt for a reason.

"It's a massive plus for us to have him back."

Coleraine took the lead when Ian Parkhill rifled a wonderful long-range blast beyond the despairing dive of Ards goalkeeper Aaron Hogg after just nine minutes and, almost instantly, Jamie McGonigle made it 2-0 with a smart turn and finish inside the area.

Ards were offered a route back into the contest when Gareth McConaghie's foul on Matthew Shevlin earned a penalty which Michael Ruddy stepped up to convert.

Hogg's save kept Jordan Allan at bay after the break and Guillaume Keke threatened for Ards before Darren McCauley was thwarted by Hogg at the other end.

Coleraine made the game safe when McLaughlin - introduced on 75 minutes for his first appearance since hobbling off with a knee injury against Ballymena United last month - finished off after McCauley's trickery had negotiated a route round full-back Greg Hall.

Visiting boss Colin Nixon credited his players for their efforts but, not for the first time in his brief tenure, was disappointed by Ards' defending at key moments in the contest.

"We worked so hard but you can't give away soft goals and gift opponents the advantage," he moaned.

 

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