A case for the defence

Gary Browne's shot goes tantalizingly close at the death. ''photo:Derek Simpson' Mandatory Credit
Gary Browne's shot goes tantalizingly close at the death. ''photo:Derek Simpson' Mandatory Credit

It may not have been the goal-fest of recent Coleraine v Portadown encounters, but Oran Kearney was content with his side’s performance.

The Bannsiders still created a number of good chances against the star-studded Ports, but the looked solid at the back against a potent strikeforce.

“To me this season is all about being more solid at the back and keeping clean sheets,” Kearney told Times Sport after the game.

“It is important to get that end of the pitch right, and the plus point for me was we still created quite a few really good chances.

“Last season we would have been creating the same amount of chances but hemorrhaging loads of chances at the other end.

“It’s needs must at the minute with budgets and everything else so we have to find a way to win games, and the template we’ve set out in the last couple of games has worked well for us.

“If I can get the effort and application from the players that we’ve had over the last three or four games then I’ll be delighted and we will win more than we’ll lose.

“We have maybe been too exciting over the last couple of seasons and there have been too many 4-3s, so there comes a time that we have to win ugly as such.”

Coleraine were impressive for large parts of the game and dominated the opening 45 minutes.

The visitors came back into after the break creating a number of good chances, but the hosts’ rearguard stood firm and Kearney conceded a draw was probably a fair result in the end.

“I think we have to be content with a point in the end,” he said.

“We bossed the first half, but Portadown flexed their muscles in the second half and created a number of good chances, so overall a point was probably a fair result.

“To be fair to our lads we held strong in the second half and were still dangerous at the other end of the field.

“Gary Browne’s very frustrated with that chance at the end, it was a great opportunity to take all three points, but a minute before that Ruairi Harkin has to head one off our line, so all in all I think a draw probably was a fair result.

“We had a couple of really good opportunities in the first half, and against teams like Portadown those are the sort of chances you need to be taking. If you can go 1-0 up in games like these it gives you a huge advantage.

“With the breeze we struggled to get out our half at times after the break.

“That’s the danger of playing the 4-5-1. In the first half it did look like a 4-3-3 as we took the game to them, but in the second half it looked more like a 4-5-1 when we struggled to get out.”

Kearney handed debuts to new boys Michael Doherty and Mark Miskimmin, who both looked impressive on the night, much to Kearney’s delight.

Doherty made several important stops and Miskimmin led the line well causing the Ports a number of problems.

“That’s Michael’s job and he won’t tell you anything different,” said the Bannsiders boss.

“It was the type of perfromance and the type of debut I was expecting off him to be honest.

“It has been well documented we have been after Mark a number of times in the past.

“I know him well from our time together at Linfield when he was a cub coming through. I always felt the move would happen some time.

“I’ve said to him there now that he has set the bar in terms of performances because I thought overall he was very good and he led the line very well.

“That’s where it has to stay now and if keeps playing like that we’ll have a good player on our hands.”

Gary Browne dropped out of the starting line up as Kearney shuffled his pack.

He was one of several experienced players who beefed up the Bannsiders bench.

Kearney revealed he took the opportunity to rest Browne following Miskimmin’s arrival at The Showgrounds.

“Where Gary came on at tonight is where he enjoys playing,” said Kearney.

“He doesn’t see himself as a target man or main striker, he is more of a link man with the creative ability.

“For as much as he has led the line in the first five games it was very much a short term solution.

“Tonight was our sixth game and Gary has played five 90 minutes so far, so we wante dto give him a bit of a rest and use Misky’s adrenalin on his debut under lights.

“It worked well for us tonight as Misky cause them a lot of problems with his running between the lines.

“It’s something different to what we already have here at the club.

“Defenders don’t like being turned and running towards their own goal.

“Mark forces them to do that plus he will run and chase everything.

“We have some good different options up top for us now.”