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Late Stephen Fallon strike helps Linfield power on but Coleraine manager Oran Kearney rages at double injustice

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Ref justice: Tim Marshall talks to the players of Coleraine and Linfield after Stephen Fallon’s controversial goal. Credit: Pacemaker Press

Ref justice: Tim Marshall talks to the players of Coleraine and Linfield after Stephen Fallon’s controversial goal. Credit: Pacemaker Press

Linfield’s Christy Manzinga celebrates his goal with David Healy. Credit: INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Linfield’s Christy Manzinga celebrates his goal with David Healy. Credit: INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

©INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

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Ref justice: Tim Marshall talks to the players of Coleraine and Linfield after Stephen Fallon’s controversial goal. Credit: Pacemaker Press

Stephen Fallon hopes his crucial match winning strike at Coleraine can help cement his place in the Linfield midfield.

The energetic central midfielder struck the decisive blow on 49 minutes to give David Healy his 200th win in charge of the Blues.

However, the goal was surrounded in controversy as Coleraine players were adamant that the ball struck referee Tim Marshall before Fallon let fly from distance.

Despite protests from the home side, Marshall stuck with his decision that saw the Bannsiders lose a home league game for the first time in over a year.

There were no arguments over the first two of the goals of the contest as Rodney Brown headed the hosts in front from a corner on 24 minutes, but that lead was distinguished soon after after Christy Manzinga powered home his 15th goal of the season on 38 minutes.

“I was very close to it so it was actually hard to tell for me, the ball was just bouncing about,” Fallon said of his much talked about winner.

“They were complaining that the ball hit the ref but I couldn’t tell. It’s a massive three points for us.

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“They are a good team and had only conceded one goal here so far this season.

“It’s an important three points and I thought we deserved it, they maybe came into it in the second half, but I think we did well and it’s a good three points.

“When we’ve played here before it’s been like that. When they play towards that end they throw everything at it.

“They threw a lot of strikers on, but we defended well, the back four was brilliant. along with Kyle (McClean) and Chris (Shields) sitting in front of them.

“They had chances but we managed the game well.

“It’s difficult when you have so many players in midfield with the likes of Chris Shields, Jamie Mulgrew, Kyle McClean and Cammy Palmer.

“There’s a lot of competition there, once you’re out you have to work your way back in again.

“Sometimes you might have to wait but you will get your chance with the amount of games.”

Coleraine squandered two chances through Matthew Shevlin to salvage a share of the spoils, with the Bannsiders further angered when the striker went to ground inside the area following an aerial collision with Sam Roscoe.

Kearney couldn’t hide his frustration following the full-time whistle but knows his side had to be more ruthless in front of goal as they slipped down to fifth in the Premiership standings.

“I’ve seen the goal back from two different views and for me, with the two levels of footage that I’ve seen, to me the ball hits the referee’s hand,” he said.

“It looks like an impulsive pulling away of the arm which would say that there’s been contact made and the game should stop because of that.

“Regarding the penalty, all eyes are fixated on Matthew and I think that’s why the reaction around the ground was the same.

“I’ve watched it back and it’s not one hand but two on Matthew. Those are moments that crucify you and which make it really hard.

“Because we have knocked our absolute pans in around here to try and raise standards in terms of the pitch, facilities, social media, everything to do with the club in all aspects, we’ve sold more season tickets this year than we’ve ever sold – we’re up from 6-700 to a record 1,200 season tickets.

“We’re hitting bumper crowds to match city clubs, we’ve 3,500 in here today and we’re standing talking about standards.

“That’s the bit that’s really hard to accept. I’ve been brutally honest with the players in relation to the second-half.

“It was two halves to a half and the bad bit that we got it shook the crowd, it shook the stadium and it shook the players.

“My biggest frustration with the whole thing was we lost 15 or 20 minutes of the second half which is human nature and I don’t blame the players for that.

“To be fair they got rid of that around the 65th minute and from that part on we were our own downfall.

“We’ve created five or six really good chances and there was some surreal stuff at times.

“A game which looked at half-time that we could push on and hopefully go on and get three points in has turned out to be one of the most frustrating 45 minutes I’ve had in football for a lot of years.”

COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, Brown, Jarvis (Bradley 58), McKendry, Lowry, O’Donnell, Glackin, Traynor (Friel 80), Kelly, Shevlin.

Subs not used: Henderson, Mullan, Wilson, Tweed, Parkhill.

LINFIELD: Johns, Roscoe, Shields, Callacher, Millar, Hume, Manzinga (A Clarke 90), M Clarke, McClean (Archer 90), Fallon, Salam.

Subs not used: Walsh, Larkin, Donnelly, Carroll, Marshall.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

Match rating: 8/10

Man of the match: Chris Shields


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