Coleraine 3 Newry City 1
Coleraine can still secure a top six place before the league split, but Marc Mukendi admits it will take true grit to achieve their goal.
With consecutive away days at Linfield and Glenavon to come before a home game with high flying Crusaders, he accepts it is a tough call.
Mukendi, the defender turned striker during Coleraine’s injury crisis, is upbeat, though: “A top six finish is back on the cards and we have to aim for that.
“We have left it late. We dropped six points in three 1-1 draws before beating Newry, but we have given ourselves a glimmer of hope and the feeling in the dressing room is that we can do it.
“It has been a tough time because of so many injuries, but we are resolved to go for it.
“The arrival of Oran Kearney as manager has lifted us and the level of performances among some of the lads has been fantastic.”
Davy O’Hare, Darren Boyce, Aaron Canning, Kyle McVey, Johnny Harkness, Johnny Watt and Aaron Black are all on the injured list just now, but new boss Kearney, who succeeded sacked David Platt at the beginning of February, refuses to let the mounting toll get him down.
Kearney’s master stroke was to shuffle his pack after failure to make an impression on a solid Newry defence before the break.
Small wonder he was happy with his side’s resilience to bounce back from a goal down to secure three vital points.
It was the first time in 64 games that the Bannsiders have come from behind to win. The last time was December 2009 when they beat Cliftonville 3-2 in the first leg of their Co-operative Insurance Cup quarter-final at Solitude.
“We were unfortunate to concede first, but Stephen Lowry scored an important goal to get us back on track and we pushed on from there,” said Kearney.
“Now we have to sustain the belief that we can continue to move forward.”
Neil Alderdice headed Newry ahead on 29 minutes from an Alan Davidson corner, but Lowry's finish after 67 minutes brought Coleraine level.
Mukendi, who earlier saw a header come off the outside of a post, fired low into the net six minutes later to give the Bannsiders the lead while Newry's Darren Murray was sent-off for an apparent off-the-ball stamp in the build up to that strike. Leon Knight’s late goal wrapped things up.