Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine can keep up top form if they show courage on the ball, says OK

Ards 0 Coleraine 3

By Keith Bailie

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney believes his players must show courage if they're to remain at the top of the Premiership.

On Saturday, the Bannsiders produced a stunning second half display to brush Ards aside at the Bangor Fuels Arena, winning 3-0 with goals from Darren McCauley (2) and Josh Carson. That win was enough to keep them three points clear of champions Linfield.

After a frustrating first half, in which Ards reduced Coleraine to set-piece opportunities, Kearney demanded his side showed more bravery. But when the former Linfield midfielder talks about bravery, he doesn't mean crunching tackles that are often associated with the Irish League.

"I told the players at half-time that I wanted courage from them. I wanted them to be brave.

"When I said courage, I don't mean jumping into tackles and sticking your head in where it hurts, I mean I want my footballers to show courage on the ball. I need my players to want the ball and be brave in possession. That's real courage, for me.

"The 3G surface at Bangor suits us down to the ground. It's an excellent playing surface, which is similar to the one we train on, and it's easy to play passing football on.

"But in the first half, we went long too often and we were relying on set-pieces.

"It took us to the second half before we actually got the ball down and starting passing it on the ground, but once we did that, that's when we took control of the game.

"Brad Lyons and Ciaron Harkin were up against three hard-working Ards players in the centre of midfield, and in the second half they showed that bravery and courage I asked for.

"They're 19 and 20 and they're doing everything we ask of them and more."

The three second half goals kept Coleraine at the top of the table, with six wins from their opening six games.

Kearney believes the fact that Darren McCauley, Josh Carson, Ciaron Harkin, Jamie McGonigle and Stephen O'Donnell have all registered more than one goal this season has been key to their success.

"It's important to spread the goals around the team, because if you're relying on one or two players to score than you are vulnerable to injuries and suspensions.

"Our European experience in the summer gave the boys a real lift after the Irish Cup final, and they've all hit the ground running in the league, and long may it continue.

"We're top of the league, so of course there is an excitement factor at the moment. I'm challenging the boys by asking them how long can they stay there for?"

Ards: Hogg, Hall, Taylor, Elebert, Glendinning, Frazer, Tommons (McLellan, 64 mins), Davidson, Hanley, McAllister (McMillen, 70 mins), Keke (Liggett, 64 mins). Unused subs: Byers, McAleenan.

Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Ogilby, O'Donnell, Traynor, McCauley (Kirk, 86 mins), Harkin, Lyons, Parkhill (McGonigle, 51 mins), Bradley (McCready, 77 mins), Carson. Unused subs: Douglas, Whiteside.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

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