COLERAINE boosted their hopes of securing a return to European football as they put a weary Portadown side to the sword on Saturday.
They produced some scintillating football to hammer Ronnie McFall’s injury hit side 4-1 and close the gap on them to just three points with two games to play.
Oran Kearney’s men were always in control in this one and when Stephen Lowry fired them in front midway through the first half the result never looked to be in doubt.
Even an equaliser from talismanic hit man Matthew Tipton failed to ignite the Ports as Aaron Boyd and Curtis Allen put the hosts 3-1 up at the break to complete a nightmare first half for the visitors.
For not only did they lose three goals, but they lost a further three players to injury as Gary Breen, Richard Clarke and Sean Mackle all limped out of the action.
Allen wrapped up the points and the win in the second half as he finished off a great move with his 20th league goal of the season to have Kearney purring at the end.
“We’ve played really well for most of the season, but sometimes we just haven’t had that killer touch,” he said.
“So it is really pleasing that we scored four and maybe should have had a few more.
“It was a tremendous performance. More than anything you want to sign off on your final home game of the season with a convincing win and we did that today.
“We played some really good stuff, but more importantly we kicked on and got the goals, which sometimes our performances don’t bring.
“There were opportunities for us to score more. There have been times this season when we have threatened to hit a team for six.
“The players attitude spoke volumes today.
“I know Ronnie has a few injuries, but when you look at their starting 11 it was still pretty formidable.
“All we focused on was winning the game no matter who was up against us.”
All four of Coleraine’s goals came from good build up play as the hosts scythed their way through Portadown at will.
Curtis Allen laid the ball on a plate for Stephen Lowry to put Coleraine in front on 24 minutes before Tipton’s equaliser.
But Aaron Boyd and Allen gave the home side a two goal advantage at the break as the finished off more flowing football.
And Allen wrapped things up in the second half with a move that started in Coleraine’s 18-yard box before ending up in the Portadown net much to Kearney’s delight.
“Our games here against Portadown always seem to bring the goals,” he said. “And I told the lads at the break not to be taking their foot off the pedal. These games always seem to have silly moments in them.
“The goal before half time was key. Curtis’ ball in for Stephen’s ball was great, but so was the move from Boydy to Macca and into Curtis for the third was fantastic. We work on that in training all the time so it’s nice to see that working out in a proper game.
“Stevie (Lowry) has been fantastic for us this season, but the one thing we maybe do criticise him about is that he maybe doesn’t score enough goals. So it was nice to see him get on the score sheet today and when your two strikers are on the mark too it makes it a good day all round.”
The Bannsiders boss has been pleased with the overall performance this term and said the team as a whole played its part in helping Ballymoney’s Howard Beverland and Curtis Allen pick up Player of the Year awards at the weekend.
“It’s great for the lads, individual awards are nice, but I’m sure those lads would be the first to tell you that they wouldn’t be lifting those awards without the contribution of the rest of the lads,” said Kearney.
“There was a lot of candidates for the awards this season and that’s what we want. It shouldn’t be a case that it’s easy to pick it’s good that there’s candidates from all over the pitch. Going back to today’s match I thought the back four were excellent. Howard in particular showed glimpses of what a footballer he’s developing into.
“We don’t have a big squad so we need people who are versatile and Howard showed that he is more than comfortable at full back.
“Sometimes you maybe feel he’s wasted at centre half as he has so much to offer. The wee taster he gave us today with his distribution and energy levels was fantastic.
“And I love speaking about Curtis and his achievements this season. People coming to games maybe just see his goals, but his attitude in training and the way he conducts himself, he is an example to all the young players.
“He’s the sort of player we want to build this club around.”