Belfast Telegraph

Mental strength bagged us a big three points: Kearney

Coleraine 3 Carrick Rangers 2

Final say: Alexander Gawne celebrates his late winner for Coleraine on Saturday
Final say: Alexander Gawne celebrates his late winner for Coleraine on Saturday

By Steve Jones

Alexander Gawne would prove to be the Coleraine hero as his late strike moved the Bannsiders to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership on goal difference.

Oran Kearney's troops had to dig deep for the victory after Carrick twice took the lead in the first-half, however, they levelled in dubious circumstances through Ben Doherty's penalty kick on 58 minutes, before substitute Gawne had the final say with four minutes to go.

It looked like Coleraine might suffer shock back-to-back defeats as they trailed to goals from Lloyd Anderson and Sachem, either side of a James McLaughlin equaliser.

However, much to the dismay of the visitors, Coleraine were awarded a penalty as Glackin went to ground inside the box, with Doherty converting from 12 yards.

Just when the game looked like ending in a draw, Carrick keeper Aaron Hogg could only parry away Josh Carson's powerful effort and substitute Gawne hooked the ball into the net with his back to goal.

After a defeat to Warrenpoint Town last weekend, boss Oran Kearney was pleased to see his side hit the winning trail once again.

"It was a long, long bus journey home last week," he added.

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"It wasn't a tough week, but one where more people asked me 'well what happened last Saturday' not once, but about a hundred times and I'm sure it was the same for the players and everyone else. I suppose that's the price to pay for being in the position we are in.

"We have seen it over the years, where this league isn't like any other, as teams will not just arrive and roll over and say here is your three points.

"There have been plenty of performances like that, there have been plenty of games like that and there will probably be plenty more in the future.

"The key thing is that this league is as much about skill and physicality as it is about mental strength and I think that was a mental three points, rather than a physical three points.

"We are not in an entertainment business, we are in a results business, so the key thing was to get the win."

Opposite number Niall Currie was proud of players' performance on the Ballycastle Road, but was baffled by the penalty decision which ultimately changed the game.

"It's the players I feel sorry for," he continued.

"That is a sickener and to me it was taken out of our hands today and I've said that to the players.

"The players were absolutely magnificent to a man. We came up against one of the best teams in the country who, on their day, have battered the top teams in this country.

"They are a top team and we gave them a hell of a game.

"When you see Coleraine running the ball into the corner in the 92nd minute you know you're doing well.

"We were in control in the second-half, it wasn't the Alamo, and Aaron Hogg wasn't too busy for the first 20 minutes of the second-half.

"Then this referee gives a penalty kick that nobody else in the ground seen.

"Coleraine didn't even appeal for it, players got up smiling and the reaction from Coleraine tells its own story.

"All we want is consistency and if you're going to give a penalty for that you'll be giving 10 penalties a game and that is just a fact."

COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Canning, Jarvis, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin (Maciulaitis '71 mins), Carson , Parkhill (Bradley '53 mins), Glackin, Traynor (Gawne '84 mins).

Unused subs: Gallagher (GK), Douglas, McConaghie, McGuckin.

CARRICK RANGERS: Hogg, Surgenor, Rodgers, Chapman, Faulkner, Ferrin, Cherry (Hassin '73 mins), Thompson, Sachem (Smith '66 mins), Keke (Nixon '61 mins), Anderson.

Unused subs: McAuley (GK), Carson, Neale, Magill.

Referee: Tim Marshall

Man of the Match: Aaron Canning

Match Rating: 8/10.

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