Game management key in Coleraine's tough run: Oran Kearney
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney believes his team are now benefiting from better game management, which has been demonstrated in recent weeks.
The Bannsiders recovered from a shattering defeat by basement side Institute late last month to negotiate difficult outings against Linfield, Glentoran and Larne, which has helped keep Kearney's boys in the slipstream of David Healy's Danske Bank Premiership pacesetters.
Things don't get any easier for the North West side because they travel to face Paddy McLaughlin's Cliftonville at Solitude today before rounding off their hectic Festive schedule with home fixtures against bitter rivals Ballymena United and Linfield.
"We are in a good place at the minute," said Kearney. "We've had a tough run of games and there are more to come.
"We've gone from Glentoran, to Larne last week and now away to Cliftonville - they don't come much more difficult. Then we have Ballymena United and Linfield up the track a bit.
"I think we showed a new dimension to our play last week at Larne. We rode the storm a bit better when we conceded in the first half.
"Against Glentoran (in the previous game), it was a catastrophe for 25 minutes when they scored. But when Larne took the lead, we got stronger for the 25 minutes after it. Those are the little traits that I want to see coming into our game, our game management was better.
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"I was happy enough to come away from Inver Park with a share of the spoils. Another day we probably would have taken all three points, but we came up against an inspired goalkeeper in Conor Devlin.
"I always look for a performance and, if I get a performance, it means we'll always create chances. When that happens, we generally win games.
"We done big parts of that last week. The performance was there, and the chance-creation was there.
"Perhaps we just lacked that little killer touch when it mattered, but again, the goalkeeper must be given credit because I can reflect on four big chances that could have won us the game.
"Those are the fine margins between winning, losing and drawing."
Kearney will have a head count before today's game. Adam Mullan, Stephen Lowry and Lyndon Kane all missed out against Larne while Aaron Jarvis and Jamie Glackin were forced out due to injury.
On the plus side, skipper Stephen O'Donnelly made a return to action, probably sooner than expected.
"It was great to have Stephen back in the team again," added Kearney. "Ideally, it would have been great to get him some minutes in the reserves after his return. But the way things were panning out and with the injuries piling up, he was forced in at the deep end. He was chomping at the bit to get back and he has been training really well. Last week was probably slightly early for him and it was a little bit of a gamble but needs must.
"I thought he eased his way back really well. His reading of the game was great, he was calm and efficient. The skipper is a main part of any club."
On his walking wounded, Kearney added: "Adam had a little niggle of a knee injury he has been carrying. Stephen has rib problems he sustained against Linfield, he may have a small fracture.
"Lyndon is making progress from a shoulder injury. We then lost Jarvis and Glackin which was hardly ideal, but we'll see who is ready to go by kick-off time."
Cliftonville vs Coleraine
Danske Bank Premiership:
Solitude, Today, 3.00pm