Cliftonville 1-0 Coleraine: Reds make their luck count as Gerard Lyttle rings some major changes
Boss Gerard Lyttle's shuffling of the pack paid dividends as Cliftonville edged past Coleraine at a sunny Solitude.
The Reds' form has been inconsistent at best this season and, coming off the back of an at times chaotic defeat to Ballymena United, Lyttle adopted a number of personnel and tactical changes to halt the Bannsiders' winning streak - but admitted his men enjoyed some luck along the way.
Daniel Hughes might have registered the only goal of the game when he followed up to convert after the ball had skipped away from Jay Donnelly inside the area, but the Bannsiders saw a plethora of opportunities go to waste, none more gilt-edged than the open net which James McLaughlin failed to take advantage of.
"We'll take the luck and we'll take the win," said Lyttle, who made four changes to the side defeated at Ballymena.
"Ideally, you'd want the performance to go with it but the result is what matters.
"Our confidence has taken a knock due to different things in the last few games, so first and foremost we had to get the win here and give our belief levels a boost.
"You could see the confidence levels rise right throughout the team after we scored. The chance that the keeper saved from Jude Winchester, what a move it was in the build-up."
Having nominated a re-shaped midfield that saw Winchester and former Coleraine favourite Ruairi Harkin performing alongside James Knowles, Lyttle was delighted with his side's work-rate.
"The boys put a shift in, they were honest in everything they did and they got the rewards for that," he said. "I've kept telling the players to keep battling, to keep working away and things would change. I'm a great believer in making your own luck and that's what happened here - we've got that wee rub of the green with some of the chances that Coleraine missed."
The visitors' failure to put the ball in the net caused major frustration for Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney, who is hopeful his troops can benefit from the harsh lesson they learned.
"Over the last few weeks, we've been doing well and winning games but our first goal has been coming late on or in the second half," he explained.
"Sometimes if you don't make that breakthrough earlier, you run the risk of being hit with a sucker punch like that. We've created chances, been unable to take them and then we've fallen behind to Cliftonville's first real opening.
"You get days like this in football. We're disappointed but there were a lot of positives, no question about that - not just here, but from our season as a whole to date."
CLIFTONVILLE: J Mooney, McGovern, Ives, McGuinness, Knowles, M Donnelly, Hughes, Harkin, Winchester, J Donnelly, Cosgrove. Subs: Bonner, Curran (J Donnelly, 64 mins), McDaid (M Donnelly, 83 mins), Catney (Winchester, 81 mins), G Donnelly.
COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Douglas, Ogilby, McCauley, McCafferty, McLaughlin, Brown, Kee, Parkhill, McGonigle. Subs: Higgins, Twigg (McGonigle, 65 mins), Edgar, Morrow (Ogilby, 85 mins), Allan (Parkhill, 64 mins).
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)
Man of the match: Jude Winchester
Match rating: 6/10