Kearney playing numbers game to juggle his options

Brad Lyons sliding in to stop Portadown's Aaron Haire on Saturday evening, Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Brad Lyons sliding in to stop Portadown's Aaron Haire on Saturday evening, Pic by PressEye Ltd.

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Oran Kearney turned to the timesheets to help mastermind a third successive victory for Coleraine inside eight days.

The Coleraine boss had cause for cheer on Saturday night as his players picked up full points and a clean sheet at the expense of struggling Portadown.

That victory helped to wrap up a memorable hat-trick across league and cup play within a week for The Bannsiders.

Coleraine kicked off the Danske Bank Premiership programme last weekend by beating Ards before a midweek victory in the League Cup over Knockbreda then Saturday success at Shamrock Park.

The weekend win arrived thanks to some thrilling play along the Coleraine attack by two of the club’s most promising prospects in Jamie McGonigle and Brad Lyons.

Lyons fired home the game’s only goal against Portadown with a low first-half drive to cap a commanding team performance ahead of the break by Coleraine.

McGonigle came close on a number of occasions to adding to his five-goal tally for the season.

Evidence of Coleraine’s firepower, in the absence of leading scorer James McLaughlin, was provided by the instant impact of Jordan Allan off the substitutes’ bench.

The on-loan forward found the net with effectively his first touch but a flag by an assistant referee prevented Allan from adding to his run of scoring form.

Allan, McGonigle and Lyons had each featured on the League Cup scoresheet against Knockbreda - with the latter doubling his return for the campaign with that weekend strike.

Allan, who had previously marked introductions off the sidelines with three goals in two appearances during games against Glenavon and Ballymena United, was handed a starting spot in the fixtures with Ards and Knockbreda.

However, Kearney analysed the statistics in finalising his squad for the road trip to Portadown.

“It came down to the minutes played as the Portadown match came at the end of a tough week of games for the group,” said Kearney. “Jamie played 20 minutes or so against Ards then around 70 in the League Cup match for 90 overall.

“Jordan clocked up about an hour against Ards then 90 minutes in the cup tie over the same period.

“It was about injecting fresh blood using the full squad.

“You could see in that first half on Saturday that Jamie has that sharpness and mobility to get into great areas.

“Brad is one of the best around at picking up the space between the lines and popping up in those pockets.”