McCafferty scores seventh free-kick of the season and then admits: ‘I never practice them’

Linfield's Ross Glendenning can't stop Coleraine's Neil McCafferty from scoring his free kick
Linfield's Ross Glendenning can't stop Coleraine's Neil McCafferty from scoring his free kick

Neil McCafferty scored another wonder free-kick on Saturday and then admitted he never practices them in training.

The midfielder’s sublime 25-yard effort at Windsor Park earned Coleraine a last-gasp draw against Linfield.

Trailing to Andy Waterworth’s 59th-minute opener, McCafferty stepped up to send an unstoppable curler into the top corner of Ross Glendinning’s net.

No sooner had the ball landed in the goal than referee Raymond Crangle blew his whistle for full-time – in the 94th minute.

It was a sucker punch for the Blues – who slip to second in the Danske Bank Premiership table – but a New Year fillip for McCafferty and Coleraine.

“It was on the perfect side for a right-footed player, so I had a go,” McCafferty said of his late strike.

“When it went in I asked the ref ‘is that it?’ and he blew the whistle for full-time.

“You sort of know when you hit it whether it is on target, and I got it up and over the wall.

“We had a couple of chances before we scored, and it looked like being another one of those days.

“It hasn’t been the story of our season, but we have had days when it just hasn’t happened for us.

“I have 11 goals this season, and I think Burnsy (Linfield’s Aaron Burns) is the only midfielder who has scored more goals than me. He has 13.

“I don’t actually practice free-kicks in training – to be honest I don’t really train,” McCafferty joked.

“I do a few jogs and a few stretches.

“I have been playing a lot of games, especially through Christmas. Oran (Kearney) knows I look after myself. I go to the gym myself a couple of times a week and do my own thing.

“I am flying at the free-kicks this season, so I am not going to start practising them in case I start missing.

“Why change it?”

McCafferty is enjoying his first season at Coleraine after being released by Portadown last summer.

“When I was at Portadown I was told to stay away from free-kicks and corners, and I drifted out of games.

“That’s not the case here, I get involved,” he added.

“But I got on well with Ronnie (McFall). He maybe didn’t want me in the team but he had to play me. But I hold no grudges. You move on and I am enjoying Coleraine.”

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney added: “If you score one or two free-kicks then that’s decent, but that is seven free-kicks this season.

“It has become a habit and we called them penalties up our neck of the woods.

“He is fantastic at set-pieces, and he could be into double figures.

“Neil is a talker. You saw him at half-time talking to Shane McGinty. That is brilliant. You want the older players looking after the younger lads.

“That is the personality and character you want.”