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Coleraine's new man Stewart Nixon proved his quality in Oval win, says Kearney

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Key man: Coleraine boss Oran Kearney (pictured) saluted the performance of Stewart Nixon

Key man: Coleraine boss Oran Kearney (pictured) saluted the performance of Stewart Nixon

�INPHO/Declan Roughan

Stewart Nixon

Stewart Nixon

Key man: Coleraine boss Oran Kearney (pictured) saluted the performance of Stewart Nixon

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney insists it was no gamble to hand new signing Stewart Nixon his debut in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash against Glentoran at the Oval.

The 23-year-old was only snapped up from Carrick Rangers before the close of the January transfer window but found himself thrust into title showdown - and passed with flying colours.

Even in the eye of Storm Ciara, Nixon turned in a performance of pace, trickery and sheer guts at times, to suggest he could be one of the shrewdest signings of the mid-season transfer merry-go-round.

Although it was Jamie Glackin who grabbed the all-important winner, it was the contribution of Nixon that had crafty Kearney waxing lyrical afterwards.

"Stewart wasn't sure whether we'd throw him straight into the team or not," said the former St Mirren chief.

"I think he expected to be on the bench for two or three games to let him get the feel for it.

"When I signed him, I assured him he was going to play and be a part of the process.

"He is not a stranger to the Oval, he's played there before for his former club, so it wasn't a case of him being overawed or not being able to adapt. I suppose it was a different type of game he was coming into, rather than what he was used to at Carrick Rangers.

"I thought he was a really bright spark for us, it was a very mature performance from him.

"You can tell he has played in this league for a couple of years and you can tell he's done really well in the Championship for a few years.

"He used all that know-how. I thought it was a very composed performance. I was delighted for him."

Not for the first time in a blue and white striped shirt, Eoin Bradley blotted his copybook from the penalty spot. He had the chance to make life a little easier for his team only to hoof his first-half effort almost out of the ground.

His blushes were spared by Glackin, whose 64th minute corner kick was caught by the gusting wind and sailed over the outstretched glove of embarrassed goalkeeper Marijan Antolovic.

"It was going to take something out of the ordinary to win it," added Kearney.

"We missed a penalty in the first-half which could have been costly.

"It was crazy out there on the pitch - the weather conditions were horrendous. There was a bit of release, in terms of pressure, after we scored and there were a few occasions I don't know how we failed to score.

"Results probably favoured us and Linfield - but it only helps when you get three points."

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott admitted it was a game that will not live long in the memory, most because of the horrible conditions.

"On a day like that, the first goal was always going to be crucial, but the way it went in was even worse," he said. "Marijan said the ball was swirling all over the place. And for a time it probably rattled him.

"It's not the end of the world. We don't get too high when we win and don't get too low when we lose.

"Basically, it's on with the next game which is Carrick Rangers."

New signing Deivydas Matulevicuis had his international clearance processed in time to be named in the squad, but McDermott added: "He's not match fit yet. He was at a training camp in Turkey, where he played a couple of friendly games, but it didn't work out for him there.

"The last time he played was late November, so he's maybe a few weeks away, but we knew that when we signed him.

"Unfortunately, Ruaidhri Donnelly tweaked his back at home, he'll be okay in a couple of weeks"

GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, McDaid, McClean, Nasseri, Cowan (Crowe, 46 mins), Van Overbeek (O'Neill, 79 mins), Mitchell (Matulevicius, 67 mins), Marron. Unused subs: Morris, Garrett, Pepper, O'Connor.

COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Mullan, Canning, Lowry, Bradley (McLaughlin, 46 mins), Carson, O'Donnell, Glackin, Traynor, Nixon. Unused subs: Gallagher, Douglas, McConaghie, Parkhill, McGuckin, Fitzpatrick.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Man of the match: Stephen O'Donnell

Match rating: 6/10

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