Coleraine youngsters thriving on cup experience
Coleraine Reserves caused the Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup shock of the round, with a surprise penalty shoot-out win over Lisburn Distillery.
Johnny Law's side drew 2-2 with the Whites during normal time, before winning a penalty shoot-out thanks to a trio of saves from young goalkeeper Jamie McAllister.
Manager Law said: “I'm absolutely delighted for the young lads. They were excellent and deserved to win the game. Even (Lisburn Distillery manager) Tommy Kincaid said after the match that the better team won.
“We beat Newry City in the previous round and we beat Institute in the Craig Memorial Cup, so we knew we were capable of competing against older teams. It's a great experience for them, as in the Reserve League they're normally just playing against lads their own age, so games like this are a good learning curve for them.
“There was a strong breeze so it wasn't the best game you'll ever see but our lads played really well and deserved the win.”
In recent weeks, Oran Kearney's Coleraine side have struggled in the Premiership. With Law's reserves performing well in both the league and the cup, some of the club's talented youngsters may get a call into the first team.
A cautious Law said: “This is a young reserve team. A lot of the players are only 16 and could still play for our youth team, so I think many of them need to spend a couple of seasons developing at reserve level. It's important not to rush young players.
“However, we do have a few older lads who could make the step up. Midfielder Lee Lindsay is a good passer of the ball, who also likes a tackle. Oran knows all about him and his team mates, it's my job to make sure they are ready for the call, if it comes.”
Linden Kane gave Coleraine Reserves the lead, before Stuart Thompson equalised. Former Ards midfielder Jimmy McIlhagga gave the Whites the lead, but Adam Mullan took the game to extra time with a late equaliser.
With no goals in extra-time, Coleraine Reserves won the game on penalties.
Coleraine Reserves can now look forward to a Boxing Day cup final against Moyola Park, in the Craig Memorial Cup.
Law said: “I don't care if we win the cup, as I'm more interested in developing players for the first team.
“It will be a great experience for the boys, because it will give them experience of playing in front of a big crowd, which most of them will have never done before. It's great for them, and after wins over Distillery and Newry, I don't see why we can't give Moyola a great game.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital