Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine midfielder Neil McCafferty is revelling in his new free role

By Keith Thomas

Freedom of expression is the name of the game for Neil McCafferty at Coleraine and it's becoming a rewarding experience for the midfielder.

McCafferty's two-goal haul against Glenavon helped register a first league home win in six attempts with manager Oran Kearney the recipient of all the credit from the 30-year-old ex-Portadown man.

"I'm playing some of my best football of my career and enjoying it immensely," says McCafferty, who joined the Bannsiders in the summer after four seasons at Shamrock Park.

"If I'm honest, I didn't have the same free role at Portadown as I've been given at the Showgrounds.

"Portadown are a good team but I felt a little restricted in my game there."

When he arrived at Ballycastle Road, Kearney didn't make any new demands of his recruit.

"He simply asked me to go out and express myself without any constraints and I am loving it," says the midfield star who stamped his class on proceedings at the weekend.

"I think our last three performances have demonstrated our real potential. That's down to the fact that players realise the belief the boss has in them. He has always remained positive even when things weren't going for us.

"Now we have taken six points out of a possible nine and, with any luck, we should have had something from the Ballymena United game last week."

McCafferty, who also spent five years at Dungannon Swifts, says Coleraine more than deserved their success against high-flying Glenavon, who still remain in the title chase just a point behind joint leaders Crusaders, Portadown and Ballymena United.

After playing so well against rivals Ballymena and losing, he says the players wanted to make sure they did not come away empty handed: "Even when we conceded a goal early on we did not feel we were going to lose out again."

Coleraine's top goalscorer extended his haul to six goals with his brace against a Glenavon side that started all guns blazing but quickly ran out of steam after taking an early lead.

The win was only Coleraine's third of the campaign but Kearney said: "I have never doubted my players. Performances have improved and we are creating chances to win games which is encouraging."

However, there were few positives for Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton: "We played well for the first 10 minutes (when Andy McGrory volleyed the visitors in front) but once we scored we went flat.

"We lacked the urgency and enthusiasm we have demonstrated in previous matches."

And McCafferty's double, the second from the penalty spot, sealed Coleraine's success.

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