Make or breaking Point
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
WARRENPOINT TOWN 0 COLERAINE 1.
WARRENPOINT Town have less than seven days to ensure Irish Premiership survival after Saturday's boring defeat to Coleraine left them two league points adrift of relegation strugglers Ballinamallard.
The Seasiders clash with the Fermanagh side on Saturday, which could decide the fate of which team will play in the promotion-relegation play-off against the Championship One runners-up.
However, before the league is wrapped up on Saturday, Warrenpoint Town are back in Milltown today (Easter Tuesday) at 2.30pm where they take on Ballymena and Seasiders manager Barry Gray blasted the Irish League decision to play afternoon games during the week.
“It is the Irish League's decision to play afternoon Easter Tuesday fixtures because you can't clash with the Champions League, so we are going to have players unavailable. We will be down three players at least," said Gray. Warrenpoint will welcome back Darren King and Shaun Parr on Tuesday after they missed Saturday's game due to suspension, something Gray said played a factor in Saturday's loss.
He said: "We have been snookered with suspensions over the last number of games, which limits what I can do from the line when I want to change things.
“They are big players for us and when you have so many out it limits the changes you can make and that is no disrespect to the players on the bench today."
The first half against Coleraine was a dour affair with plenty of energy but little to shout about in terms of shots on target.
With so much at stake it was understandable that both sides were hesitant at times. But while there was an abundant of perspiration there was little inspiration on show. It was a massive occasion for Warrenpoint who were back at Milltown for only their fourth league game at home, but the crowd was relatively quiet. Coleraine had the better of the few chances of the opening half; Parr comfortably saved Ruairi Harkin's effort. Although the Point keeper had to dive full-stretch to deny David McDaid's curling effort. Warrenpoint had one shot on target, a tame free from Johnny Cowan, yet they could have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time had there been anyone to greet Stephen McCabe's inviting cross just inside the goal-line.
The Seasiders looked immediately more purposeful in the second half and Cowan came close to grabbing the lead but his stinging effort sailed over. However, it took 67 minutes to break the deadlock when Coleraine took the lead after Michael Hegarty played a through ball, Warrenpoint captain John Boyle and keeper Parr both looked to have cut the pass out but Gareth Tommons got his toe to the ball and forced it into the net.
Warrenpoint never really looked like scoring and they could have been further behind on 83 minutes when Gareth Tommons blazed over the bar even though Eoin Bradley was waiting, unmarked and on-side at the back-post.
With 88 minutes Warrenpoint had a chance when Stephen Moan floated in a free, Johnny Cowan got plenty of purchase on the ball but couldn't steer his header past the standing Coleraine keeper Eugene Ferry who saved with ease. Gray was disappointed but said his side will remain calm over the next week.
“I don't think any side deserved to lose it, was a dull game wasn't it?" he said.
“We weren't knocking the ball around as we had been doing. It was disappointing to concede a silly goal and that was the difference between the teams.
“We controlled large patches we just didn't create a big pile, about three or four players for us didn't play a fraction of how they normally play. They were a team we wanted to pull into the mix but unfortunately we can't do that now.
“Obviously a win today would have been massive. We just have to take as many points out of the next two games as possible, there is no point worrying about what might happen and what might not happen, the focus is just on one game at a time."
WARRENPOINT TOWN: Jonathan Parr, Jonathan Cowan, Daniel Hughes, Stephen Hughes, Stephen McCabe, Mark Hughes, John Boyle, Ruairi Devlin, Timmy Grant (Paudie Smith 73'), Stephen Moan and Martin Havern. Subs not used: Shane Mulgrew, Gregory McCabe and Kenny Kearns.
COLERAINE: Eugene Ferry, Howard Beverland, Ryan McIlmoyle, Michael Hegarty, David O'Gilby, Ruairi Harkin, Aaron Canning, Eoin Bradley, John Watt, Gareth Tommons and David McDaid.
Today (Tuesday) at 2.35pm
Ballinamallard v Dungannon Swifts
At Milltown: Warrenpoint Town v Ballymena United. Saturday (April 26) 3pm
At Milltown: Warrenpoint Town v Ballinamallard.
Dankse Bank Premiership
P GD Pts
Cliftonville 36 46 79
Linfield 36 34 76
Crusaders 36 24 63
Portadown 36 27 62
Glentoran 36 9 53
Glenavon 36 1 51
Ballymena U 36 -10 46
Dungannon S 36 -17 42
Coleraine 36 -11 38
Ballinamallard 36 -38 35
Warrenpoint T 36 -27 33
Ards 36 -38 23
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