Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Johns calls on Coleraine to keep their foot on gas

By Jonathan McNabb

Coleraine goalkeeper Chris Johns has urged his team-mates to continue their good run of form and clinch another valuable three points at home to derby rivals Ballymena United.

Oran Kearney's men now trail Crusaders on goal difference at the top of the table ahead of today's fixtures and Johns insists the Bannsiders need to keep winning as they chase their first Gibson Cup crown since 1974.

"Ballymena are a side that can score goals against anyone," Johns said.

"In the previous three games, we have managed to secure two wins and a draw, so we will want to continue that good run.

"It's a derby game and they will be up for it, but so will we and hopefully we can get the win."

The Waringstown man was relieved after last weekend's win over Cliftonville as he allowed Jay Donnelly's effort to creep into the bottom corner.

It was a rare mistake from the former Southampton trainee, but the 22-year-old hailed the performance of his team-mates to get him out of jail.

"It was a hard fought and gutsy three points," Johns said.

"It was an even first half and we should have gone in at 0-0, but I made a mistake that cost us a goal. Nothing was said about it at half-time but I knew there and then it could have cost us not only in the context of the game, but on a larger scale.

"The way everyone played in the second half was unbelievable and the crowd really spurred us on.

"The relief when Jamie McGonigle coolly slotted home the penalty kick was nothing like I have ever felt before. Everyone played like giants and they just never gave up.

"It makes me very proud to be part of this team and this great club."

After keeping the most clean sheets in the Danske Bank Premiership so far this season, it was no surprise that Johns was named on the shortlist for the Ulster Footballer of the Year award. While he is delighted to be a contender, the shot-stopper would rather pick up silverware before the end of the season.

"Personal awards in a team game are a funny one for me as I'm not sure what to think about them," Johns concluded.

"It's so difficult to differentiate between everyone this year as our whole team has been brilliant. Without everyone's contribution we wouldn't find ourselves in the position that we are in.

"Winning silverware with this team and for this club is definitely more important than any individual award could ever be."

Kearney's men have lost only one of their 35 Premiership outings to date during this campaign, a sequence which the Ballycastle Road boss says has given them great confidence.

"I've been urging the boys to keep looking after our own business and hang in there. For us to have made up the five-point margin Crusaders had over us is phenomenal," he said. "We have never doubted ourselves - there is serious belief in that changing room and it has grown.

"We don't get ahead of ourselves and we have a real good bunch of lads. We have total belief and we will try to pick up another three points against Ballymena."

Belfast Telegraph

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