Belfast Telegraph

Kearney's bright outlook through red mist

Cliftonville 0 Coleraine 0

By Conor McLaughlin

Both managers did their level best to salvage the most minor slither of positivity from Saturday's dour draw between Cliftonville and Coleraine.

It perhaps says everything about the lack of entertainment on offer that a game which boasted no fewer than three red cards - and a healthy seven yellows - is still best described as utterly unremarkable.

Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney and Reds supremo Gerard Lyttle were both of the opinion that the dismissals dished out to home midfielder Paul Finnegan and Coleraine defender Adam Mullan were harsh, while Jaimie McGovern's late rush of blood was interpreted by referee Arnold Hunter as an elbowing offence on Saul McCaughan.

After seeing his side's winning run come to an end, Kearney - whose charges boast a game in hand over Cliftonville - said: "We're unbeaten in nine, eight of which have been wins, so it maybe shows how far we've come in such a short space of time that we're disappointed with this result and where it leaves us in the table.

"Before the game, we spoke about the importance of being in control of our own destiny in the race for third place. A win here would have meant that, with a game more to play, everything was in our own hands but now that's been taken from us again and we need slip-ups from elsewhere to get us back in control."

Lyttle, meanwhile, was ultimately grateful that his decimated line-up worked hard to avoid defeat.

"We never threatened to win it, but I thought we looked solid and didn't look like losing either," he said.

"With injuries and suspensions, we had so many players out all over the park, so we were asking people to do jobs in positions they're not familiar with. Then we pick up a red card which means more chopping and changing but that seemed to spark us into a wee bit of life.

"It's hard to play good football or find any kind of rhythm or momentum when, week after week, you've a load of defenders and midfielders out and then, the following week, one or two of them are back but another couple are out again."

CLIFTONVILLE: J Mooney, McGovern, Ramsey, M Donnelly, Hughes, Seydak, J Donnelly, Winchester, Cosgrove, Nelson, Finnegan. Subs: Burke, Garrett (for Nelson, 55 mins), Lavery (for M Donnelly, 68 mins), A Donnelly, Haire.

COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Mullan, Ogilby, McCauley, McCafferty, Kee, McConaghie, Parkhill, McGonigle, Bradley. Subs: Douglas (for McConaghie, 33 mins), McCaughan (for Parkhill, 73 mins), Doherty, Allan (for Kee, 82 mins), Whiteside.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

Man of the match: Tomas Cosgrove

Match rating: 3/10

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