Warrenpoint leave in blaze of glory
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
WARRENPOINT Town said goodbye to Stangmore Park, their adopted home ground for the past four months, in the best possible manner - with a 2-1 victory over Coleraine.
And indeed Saturday's victory was their first in Dungannon, with their other two Premiership victories coming when they travelled to Ards and Ballymena.
Another plus from this match was that the three points gained lifts them from the basement position in the Premiership table, with Ards dropping below them.
And make no mistake this win was deserved. True the 'Point keeper Jonathan Parr made a number of exceptional saves but Warrenpoint played most of the football, had the better players and carved out a host of scoring opportunities.
The Seasiders' two first half goals were real crackers. On 30 minutes Stephen Hughes, one of the smallest players on the park, rose like a giant onto a right wing corner from his brother Mark to thump a thunderous header past a helpless Coleraine keeper Wayne Drummond.
And two minutes later the 'Point scored an even better goal. There seemed little danger as Marty Havern, making only his second start on the Town team, latched onto a ball down the right flank. The wee man cut inside and fired in a bullet 25-yarder, the ball rocketing off the woodwork, and into the back of the Coleraine net. It was a stunning strike, totally out of the blue, and indeed seconds had elapsed before the crowd realised it was a goal.
It was also great to see Barry Gray with a big smile on his face. Immediately after the final whistle the Warrenpoint manager beamed: "We got what we deserved; we worked hard with the same work ethic that we had last week but today we took our chances. And at the end of the day we were very unlucky not to have netted a couple more goals. Credit to the players, and it's not been easy as our confidence is low.
“Before today we'd been playing well in patches and not getting any rewards for it."
When it was put to the boss that the whole team played well, he answered: "Absolutely. We didn't carry anyone today on the field or even the boys who came on (as substitutes). And that's what you need, week in and week out.
“The quality on show today and the way we played was superb. That's what it's all about."
The Warrenpoint Supporters nominated rugged central defender Jonathan Cowan as their Man of the Match and it was a great choice as the big man had his best game of the season on Saturday. Time out of number he rose out of the crowd to head away and his tenacity in the tackle and his unwillingness to lose, inspired all around him.
Yet there were quite a few candidates for the 'Point Supporters award. Keeper Jonathan Parr had the proverbial blinder and he made three super saves in the opening half. Vital saves that paved the way for victory.
Marty Havern, who cracked home the glorious winner, was another who was in the running for Man of the Match. The stocky frontrunner too was inches away from grabbing a second goal when another of his thumping drives cannoned off the underside of the bar with the Coleraine keeper a spectator. And Marty also ran himself into the ground with a selfless display.
Others who gave super displays were right back Darren King who tackled like a tiger all afternoon, the multi-talented left back Mark Hughes who covered every inch of Stangmore Park, plus the swash-buckling midfield dynamos Liam Bagnall and Stephen Moan, the latter who was inches away from scoring with a daisy-cutting 20-yarder that zipped past the base of the Bannsiders' post. This would have been quite an achievement as Moaner's last goal came in the U10 league at Carnbane!
But picking out these star men is unfair to the rest of the team, and indeed the rest of the squad, as John Boyle, Stephen Hughes, Stephen McCabe, Daniel Hughes, Sean 'The Mighty Mully' McMullan, Timmy Grant and Ruairi Devlin contributed tremendously with their own individual talents of skill, pace and bravery - or even a combination of all three.
The Bannsiders threatened first with Parr saving brilliantly from a close range headers by Howard Beverland and Gareth Tommons and then later in the half dropping to block as Joel Bradley broke clear.
Still at the break the Town were two in front thanks to those Hughes and Havern crackers, but in the second half instead of lying back and defending their advantage, the 'Point pushed forward looking for a third. And at times they almost got it too - even apart from those earlier mentioned Moan and Havern strikes.
Stephen McCabe was a little too high while Stephen Hughes had a shot charged down, but on 54 minutes Warrenpoint really deserved a goal. Stephen Hughes and Havern inter-combined to feed Daniel Hughes who was unlucky with a great shot.
Daniel's brother Stephen brought a full stretch save from Drummond, while the keeper then reacted superbly to turn a McCabe volley over the bar.
Substitute Ruairi Devlin too got in on the attacking act and was narrowly wide with a snap shot.
The only blip on a memorable day came on 86 minutes when Coleraine's Shane Jennings ghosted in at the back post to fire high into the 'Point net. But it didn't really matter.
Warrenpoint left Stangmore Park on a high with Barry Gray looking forward to a return to base, saying: "Our next home game is back in Milltown on December 20."
That Friday evening Warrenpoint will take on Glenavon with hopefully a bumper crowd present to see Premiership football in the seaside town for the first time.
Meanwhile it's back to bread and butter and on Saturday the Town travel to the Oval to play the in-form Glentoran. Three more points wouldn't go amiss.
Warrenpoint Town: Jonathan Parr, Darren King, Jonathan Cowan, John Boyle, Mark Hughes, Liam Bagnall, Stephen Moan, Stephen McCabe, Marty Havern, Daniel Hughes, Stephen Hughes with subs: Ruairi Devlin (for Havern: 69 mins), Sean McMullan (for S Hughes: 84 mins) and Timmy Grant (for McCabe: 84 mins).
Coleraine: W Drummond, H Beverland, R McIlmoyle, M Hegarty, D Ogilby, G Browne, S Carson, A Canning, E Bradley, G Tommons and J Bradley with subs: S Jennings, S Douglas and J Stewart.
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