Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Aaron Burns hopes this spectacular strike is enough to earn Coleraine start

Cliftonville 1-2 Coleraine

By Conor McLaughlin

Aaron Burns believes that competition for places can help Coleraine thrive this season after emerging from the bench to see off Cliftonville at Solitude.

Quite how the contest remained scoreless up until Burns' introduction almost defies belief but Burns wasted little time in making an impact with a confident finish breaking the deadlock with 18 minutes remaining.

The hosts levelled when Joe Gormley's fiercely-struck free-kick was nodded past his own keeper by Stephen Lowry - although the Reds striker will almost certainly be credited with the strike given the modern game's capricious interpretation of what constitutes an own goal -before Burns popped up with a delightful winner just as the clock hit 90 minutes.

"It's just one of them shots that you know is going to hit the net," said the Bannsiders hero.

"I remember Stevie (Lowry) passing the ball into me and I had to re-adjust my feet. When I turned, there was no-one near me and it was great to see it go in."

Both teams had passed up a host of glorious opportunities before Burns showed them how it should be done, with the former Linfield man explaining: "Over my career I've had a wee knack of the ball just falling to me and there were three or four times in the first-half where the ball bounced about in the box and I was thinking that I would have buried that.

"The one that did fall to me, thankfully I was able to take it.

"On the bench you're always thinking you can make an impact, but you also have faith in Jamie (McGonigle) or Skinner (Eoin Bradley) to nick us a goal.

"Maybe it just wasn't their day in front of goal and it was mine, but next week could be the opposite.

"There's us three and James McLaughlin, who's out injured, and the four of us know that if you're on the bench you have to come on and try and make an impact and give the manager a sore head and thankfully that's what I've done.

"Fingers crossed it earns me a start and gives Oran a few problems."

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray was disappointed with his side's game management in the closing minutes - and cited an example of where the Reds could have learned from Coleraine.

"A few minutes before the goal, Thomas Maguire is breaking forward and their defender, Aaron Traynor, takes him out and takes a yellow card for it," he explained.

"They go forward and McGonigle gets time on the ball to try and pick his pass - a foul there and the danger's over. They would have had a free-kick from near enough the corner flag but they had about 15,000 corners in the second-half and we dealt with them all, so I'd have been confident we'd have dealt with another delivery like that.

"As it turns out, the ball's played into the middle and there's a space that's exploited.

"It's a difficult one to take but something I hope we'll learn from.

"There are plenty of positives we can take and we had done so well for 90 minutes but it was all about managing things for those last four minutes and, unfortunately, we've just momentarily switched off and it's cost us."

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McGovern, Ives, C Curran, R Curran (Lavery, 82 mins), Bagnall, Catney, Gormley, J Donnelly, McMenamin (Maguire, 69 mins), A Donnelly. Unused subs: Neeson, White, McConnell.

COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Harkin (Lyons, 64 mins), McCauley (Douglas, 90 mins), Lowry, Bradley (Burns, 64 mins), Carson, Crown, McConaghie, Traynor, McGonigle. Unused subs: Parkhill, Doherty.

Refeee: Steven Taylor (Ballyclare)

Man of the match: Richard Brush

Match rating: 8/10

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