It wasn’t quite a ‘Ard luck story but Coleraine boss Oran Kearney felt his side didn’t get what they deserved out of Saturday’s game.
Going in to the game with a makeshift midfield, failing to take their chances when they were on top while giving away soft goals at the other end, as well as failing to get several big refereeing decisions left the Bannsiders bemoaning another bad day at the office.
Things looked good for Kearney’s men as Eoin Bradley lobbed them in front with a sublime chip just after the hour mark. They had several chances to extend their lead and had two penalty appeals for handball waved away by Colin Burns as Ards produced a devastating comeback.
Three goals in 14 minutes left the Bannsiders shellshocked and heading towards another defeat.
“We knew it was going to be a big ask going into the game missing our three central midfielders,” Kearney told Times Sport.
“But I thought we acquitted ourselves well. There wasn’t really a big lot in the game up until we scored.
“The goal came in a period of dominance for us at the start of the second half but unfortunately we didn’t kill the game off when we were on top.
“That has been the case in a lot of games this season. Unfortunately failure to put the chances away at one end put the pressure on at the other and we got punished.
“We gave away soft goals and we never really recovered from it. Unfortunately teams don’t seem to have to work too hard to score against us at the minute. So while we aren’t scoring at one end we are giving goals up too easily at the other.”
Kearney was also disappointed with the performance of referee Colin Burns who on the day seemed to ignore a lot of clear decisions which should have went in Coleraine’s favour including two hand balls by Andy Hunter.
“There was a lot of decisions which went unpunished which I can’t understand,” said Kearney.
“The second hand ball by Hunter is almost a save, and what makes it worse is the ref is standing beside it. You’re looking at a free kick to us and possibly a red card for the player, but instead nothing is given and Ards go up the pitch and score.
“Eoin Bradley was fouled almost every time the ball was played up to him yet very few free kicks were given in his favour. He was also kicked off the ball in the first half. Now we all know in this day and age if you do that then it’s a straight red card, but nothing was given. To make it worse the ref told me afterwards he saw the whole incident.
“It’s frustrating and I think it got the better of the players once we went a goal down. We just couldn’t get ourselves going again.
“I had a good chat with the players afterwards and I understand their frustration, but I told them they need to take ownership of what happened too.
“This was a game we should have won, we certainly had enough chances to win it, but we’ve ended up empty handed again.
“We need to learn from it and when things go against us make sure we react in the right way.”
Ards boss Niall Currie praised his team for their comeback. “I’m very proud of my team. As long as they keep learning, keep listening, apply themselves properly and continue to show the commitment and the desire that is required to play at this level, then they’ve a real chance of making it in the Irish League.”