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Oran Kearney keeps his cool as Coleraine climb ladder

Portadown 1-2 Coleraine

By Keith Thomas

Coleraine's quest for a first top-six finish in three seasons remains on course.

The Bannsiders consolidated fourth place in the Danske Bank Premiership thanks to goals from super subs James McLaughlin and Sammy Morrow at Portadown. Ports boss Ronnie McFall's prediction that his side would start to climb the table soon looked to be coming to fruition when they led at half-time through Peter McMahon's goal.

But Coleraine boss Oran Kearney's interventions from the bench proved decisive with McLaughlin snatching his sixth goal of the season and former Northern Ireland international Morrow winning the points.

The reverse sent the Ports tumbling into the bottom half of the table. They lie seventh, two points behind Glentoran and rivals Glenavon. Kearney isn't getting carried away with Coleraine's fourth place, however.

"We have had a tough start against top sides but I'm proud of the manner in which we have kept ourselves in the mix," he said. "We have a lot of young players who are on a speedy learning curve and their willingness to keep battling through adversity is a credit to them."

Portadown can't buy a home win. Two draws and the same number of defeats in their last four games at Shamrock Park explain why they are in the wrong half of the standings. They haven't won in five league games.

Morrow's second coming at Coleraine has given the ex-Hibernian and Derry City striker a new lease of life.

"I'm enjoying the challenge and the enthusiasm of the young players around me is infectious," said Morrow. "We have belief in our ability and keep working hard. We got the perfect reward."

After a couple of early scares, the Ports snatched the advantage. Ross Redman and Gary Twigg combined for McMahon to score after eight minutes.

McLaughlin levelled for Coleraine from Ian Parkhill's 71st-minute assist. Parkhill then set up Morrow for the winner three minutes from time.

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