A late equaliser from Coleraine saw the points shared at the Showgrounds this afternoon. Eddie Patterson made three changes after last week’s home defeat to Glenavon with Fra McCaffrey, Marcus Kane and Kym Nelson all taking their place in the starting eleven in place of Jordan Stewart, Steven McCullough and Niall Henderson.
With just three minutes on the clock referee Tim Marshall made a decision which was to prove crucial to the outcome of the game. David Scullion latched onto a long clearance from the back, doing well to gain control of the ball on a very poor Showgrounds surface, and bore down on Michael Doherty’s goal. Just as he was about to pull the trigger Aaron Canning clipped him from behind a couple of yards inside the Coleraine area but, as everyone in the ground awaited the referee’s whistle and red card, the man in charge, who was nowhere near being up with play, waved play on and the visiting side also looked in vain towards his assistant.
Despite this injustice the Glens endeavoured to push forward but the bumpy pitch was not conducive to good football and little was being created, an Allen free kick that was fumbled by Doherty being the closest they came in the opening quarter hour. Coleraine started to make inroads as the half progressed, forcing a series of fruitless corners, but on twenty two minutes it was the Glens who went into the lead with a beautifully worked goal. Scullion played the ball in to the feet of Fra McCaffrey who, with his back to goal, held the ball up and flicked it through to Steven Gordon. The young midfielder glided through a gap in the Coleraine defence and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season and fourth in four games.
Shortly afterwards Scullion came close to extending the lead, curling a shot just wide after a brilliant tackle and pass by Stephen McAlorum. However Coleraine were always dangerous with Shane McGinty on the right and Darren McCauley on the left causing the visiting defenders problems and on the half hour mark these two created their best chance of the half. McCauley’s cross from the left found McGinty at the far post but, just as it looked as though he would equalise, Elliott Morris was quickly out to smother his shot.
McGinty was at it again four minutes after the break, cutting in from the right to shoot past Morris from a tight angle but the Glens were fortunate to see the ball rebound off the post and McCauley’s follow up effort sail over the bar. The increasingly bumpy pitch and windy conditions had both sides struggling to do anything constructive, a mistimed punch from Morris and a low cross scrambled clear by the Coleraine defence after some superb work by Gordon the closest we came to a goal during some mid-half doldrums. Another goalkeeping error on thirty three minutes, this time from Doherty as he dropped a Scullion corner, almost presented the Glens with a goal but substitute Jordan Stewart’s fierce shot was well blocked by a defender.
With eight minutes left on the clock Coleraine grabbed their equaliser. Neil McCafferty found substitute Gary Browne whose shot from just outside the area was well saved by Morris. However McCauley was quickest to the rebound and he pounced to thump the ball home and rescue a point for his team. There was much huffing and puffing in the closing minutes as both teams went for the winner but the closest we came to a goal was when Calum Birney’s header from a Willie Garrett cross was well saved by Doherty in the final minute and the visitors had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Highlights and manager reaction on BBC Sport NI HERE
Elliott Morris, Barry Holland, Calum Birney, Jonathan Addis, Marcus Kane (sub Willie Garrett 77 mins), David Scullion, Stephen McAlorum, Kym Nelson (sub Jordan Stewart 74 mins), Steven Gordon, Fra McCaffrey, Curtis Allen (sub Danny McKee 88 mins)