It wasn’t to be in the end for Coleraine against Motherwell – but Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney is still extremely proud of his players.
The Northern Irish side pushed the Steelmen all the way to penalties in their Europa League second round qualifier. Stephen Robinson’s side were 2-0 up and cruising at half time but Kearney’s men showed the courage that had them progress past Maribor during round one.
They clawed it back to 2-2, forcing a penalty shootout against the Premiership side. Trevor Carson stepped up for Motherwell though, saving all three penalties as his side sealed a 3-0 penalty shootout win.
Kearney’s men pulled off shocks to get this far, namely the penalty shootout victory in Maribor to set this up. But whilst this result will hurt, Coleraine can take pride from their efforts.
“It is a range of feelings at this moment in time in how the match ended up,” he said. “At half-time we were on the ropes and you have to pay big credit to Motherwell as their intensity was higher, we struggled to spring a pass or two together and we struggled to lay a glove on them in simple terms.
“For those who don’t know us and how we play, we are very much a second-half team and we use that small gradient and tiny bit of slope and we use it well.
“At half-time it was quite harrowing with the message as the next goal was vital in two ways because the first way was if Motherwell grabbed a third we would have to absolutely tune in and not pick up a four, five or 6-0 defeat, but the stronger mentality would be to hang in there and if the goal does come, we could perhaps turn the tide.
“I think when you bring Skinner (Eoin Bradley) on he is very effective at what he does. We altered the way we played, caused them multiple problems and deservedly got back into the game.
“We had the joy of penalties in Maribor and it is a memory that will live long with us, but this one will live with us for different reasons but that’s life and football. You have to take the good ones and enjoy those but you also have to take the tough ones on the chin and the possibilities of what could have happened.
“I hope experiences like tonight will only strengthen us in a performance point of view.”