Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine won't stop in quest to overhaul Crusaders: McConaghie

By Alex Mills

Gareth McConaghie sent out a defiant message after Coleraine's dramatic draw with Crusaders at Seaview on Tuesday: "We're not giving up the title fight."

Oran Kearney's battling Bannsiders came within six minutes of leaving the sell-out Shore Road venue with all three points, which would have taken them to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.

Leading through Jamie McGonigle's second-half penalty, the visitors defended manfully until substitute David Cushley struck.

Although Stephen Baxter's team - who were agonisingly pipped in the championship run-in by Linfield last season - still hold a two-point advantage, defender McConaghie insists the Bannsiders have no intention of throwing in the towel.

"The message is still the same - keep it going," he said. "We walked away from Seaview proud of our performance. It was a top-two clash, I always thought it would be a tense, edgy affair. It was a high-pressure game played in front of a packed house, but those are the type of games you want to play in.

"We are still there. Make no mistake about it, there is a long way to go. We can take a lot of positives from the Crues game. We put on a show and I think it sent out a message to suggest we are not going to give up on it.

"It's now interesting. It's down to the last four games - it's all to play for. We just have to keep chipping away to see how far we can keep pushing Crusaders.

"Now we focus on Cliftonville on Saturday, hoping to pick up three points to keep this challenge going. One game at a time."

Having blunted the hungry Crues for so long, McConaghie stressed it was disappointing to lose a goal.

"I thought it was soft," said McConaghie. "If you want to win titles, you can't afford to keep doing that. As a defender, you are always disappointed to concede a goal from a set-piece situation.

"Strikers love goals, we (defenders) love clean sheets. So hopefully on Saturday we can keep a clean sheet and not give away any soft goals.

"Crusaders are a great side and they specialise in set-plays. They have boys that can hurt you, but apart from that one occasion I thought we coped well.

"I thought the team put up a great show and fully deserved the point. If we had taken the chances we created, we perhaps should have killed off the Crues."

With four games remaining, the Bannsiders are hoping for a favour from another team if they are to pip the Crues to the title.

McConaghie added: "We have to keep looking after ourselves. Crusaders are a formidable side, their attacking force is frightening, but we are not bad either.

"Yes, we are now looking for another team to take points off the Crues. In saying that, there is no point in getting a favour if we don't look after ourselves.

"We are pushing for the title and the other teams are pushing for a European place. There are no easy games in the run-in."

Belfast Telegraph

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