Ben Doherty on track for a special season with Coleraine

Ben Doherty celebrates a goal with Aaron Jarvis
Ben Doherty celebrates a goal with Aaron Jarvis

Ben Doherty certainly seems to be Coleraine’s go-to man at the moment.

The former Derry City man has started the new campaign with a real bang.

The midfielder has been involved in nearly half of all the goals the Bannsiders have scored this term - scoring seven and assisting nine of their 34 goals to date.

It is a fantastic effort by Doherty who helped himself to another brace against Warrenpoint Town on Saturday.

Speaking after the game the 22-year-old admitted he has set himself a number of targets for the season, and he will continue to work hard to achieve them.

“I set myself my own individual targets at the start of the season and I’m well on my way towards them,” he said.

“I just want to keep kicking on every game and building up that confidence. It’s working for me at the minute so long may that continue for me.”

Boss Oran Kearney has been delighted with Doherty’s input this season.

“I have been very pleased with Ben,” he said.

“His overall contribution since I’ve arrived has been brilliant and it’s great to see him weighing in with goals.

“With Aaron Jarvis being out, we had to ask Ben to do a slightly different role and, for me, I think Ben is more of a threat on the left.

“It was a different one today for Ben and that’s how football works as you think because he is more central he might not get as many chances, yet he ends up with two goals.”

Doherty has thrived in the wide-left position this term, but he was drafted into a more central position on Saturday due to the absence of Jarvis.

Having already filled in at full back earlier this season he says he is more than happy to play anywhere the manager wants him to.

“Aaron picked up a bit of an injury during the week and I think Oran wanted to give him a bit of a rest with there being three games in a week,” he said.

“Wherever the boss asks me to play I’ll play. I played centre-midfield last year, this year I’ve played at left wing and left back. If he (Oran) asks you to play there, you do it because everyone in the team knows everyone else’s job. I have no problems slotting in there.”

Doherty was delighted for Coleraine to pick up another three points as they remain hot on Crusaders heels at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

“It all comes down to beating those teams in the lower half of the table. You need to be beating them if you want to progress,” he said.

“We’re coming into two big games against Crusaders and Linfield, and we’re going into those games with a bit of confidence now.

“Warrenpoint picked up their first win of the season against Dungannon last week. They went in 2-0 down last week but bounced back, and it was 2-0 to us at the break today as well.

“Oran gave us a warning at half time that we don’t let what happened to Dungannon happen to us this week.

“No disrespect to Dungannon but we have our own targets and we need to be beating teams like Warrenpoint if we are going to progress.”

Oran Kearney was a happy man to see his side come through a tough week with three games in seven days by making it a hat-trick of wins on Saturday.

Having dispatched Carrick Rangers and Glentoran the Bannsiders boss knew it was important to pick up another win to keep pace at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

It wasn’t pretty at times but Kearney knew his side had it all to lose against the basement boys.

“These are the days when you have everything to lose and nothing to gain and it’s about making sure you are as professional as possible and you get the result in the bag,” he said afterwards.

“To be fair to our lads, after a three game week and a tough game on Tuesday night, to come back out again and get three goals and a clean sheet we are delighted with our week’s work.

“The big thing for us at 2-0 at half-time was to remind the players of what we were like at 2-0 on Tuesday night.

“There was a scare at 2-0 after 60 minutes today but apart from that, and if we are being honest, we had four or five chances to put the game to bed.

“I said to the players after the game that I sadistically didn’t want the penalty at the end and to take the 2-0.

“I think we have to learn as a bench as well that the mindset doesn’t always have to be that you get the two goals, then you go and get your third and fourth like it was against Dungannon Swifts.

“There are other days when the goals don’t come and you have to be solid to get your clean sheet and you take your win.

“Some days you might have to take a 1-0, so you can’t always be in the mindset of being 2-0 ahead and thinking, ‘How many goals can we get?’

“Despite that, we are delighted with our week’s work and I thought we were super today.”

With so many games in quick succession Kearney has had to manage his squad and was forced into a couple of changes on Saturday.

He said: “We have had to manage Ian Parkhill over the last couple of weeks as he had a bad ankle smack about six weeks ago and it’s still niggling him so I haven’t been able to use him as freely as I wanted to.

“Aaron Jarvis was tight going into Tuesday night’s game and was very tight on Thursday and today we elected not to take the risk.

“Our squad has always been good at being adaptable, especially a couple of years ago when we lost Brad for a few weeks and Skinner for three months, but people kept stepping up to the plate and taking over.

“It is a squad game. It isn’t about 11 players and our squad is about everybody pulling their weight.

“I thought when Ian Parkhill and Alexander Gawne came on they didn’t allow Warrenpoint to build up a sense of steam and we attacked with pace.

I think the squad has had a tough week, but a very rewarding one.”