COLERAINE would have home comforts four times during November which included an eye-catching win against Larne…
The Stripes came into the month after back-to-back wins against Warrenpoint Town and Portadown as they made their third trip to Carrick Rangers inside two months. After winning the first two contests, the Stripes would find this one a far more difficult contest as Gareth Deane produced a strong performance between the sticks to keep out Lloyd Anderson, Kurtis Forsythe and Ewan Kelly in the first-half. In truth, the hosts would have all the big chances as Ben Tilney and Jordan Gibson also failed to find the target, with Eoin Bradley having a goal disallowed at the other end for offside as the game finished goalless.
The League Cup would be a welcome distraction for Coleraine as Glentoran were the visitors in the quarter-final stage. The game sparked into life on 19 minutes as the Stripes took the lead following a devastating counter attack. After defending their own corner, the home side attacked superbly with Conor McKendry racing onto Jamie Glackin’s pass before squaring to Glackin who showed great composure to slot the ball past Ross Glendinning. Glentoran served early notice of their intent within 20 seconds of the restart when Luke McCullough drilled a low shot past the post. The same player then flashed an effort across the goalmouth moments later with no one on hand to provide a finishing touch. It then took a last gasp block from skipper O’Donnell on 50 minutes to deny Jay Donnelly as the home side were forced to soak up heavy pressure. The Glens continued to threaten and Robbie McDaid got down low to meet a Bobby Burns cross on 58 minutes but his effort clipped the outside of the post. However, after absorbing that pressure, top goalscorer Matthew Shevlin struck to double the advantage on 63 minutes as the marksman took advantage of an error from Mal Smith and gave Glendinning no chance with the finish.
Coleraine, who had registered eight clean sheets from their last nine games heading into the next fixture against Dungannon Swifts, made it nine from ten as they recorded a 2-0 success. After a lot of pressure from the hosts, Coleraine finally made their dominance count as Matthew Shevlin scored yet again as he delightfully headed in from Jamie Glackin’s inviting cross on 32 minutes. To their credit, Dungannon were good in possession but the Stripes made it 2-0 quickly after the break as Shevlin turned provider for Cathair Friel to head home from close range.
A bumper crowd descended onto the Ballycastle Road for the visit of Larne as Coleraine aimed to maintain their pursuit at the upper echelons of the table. After both teams missed half chances, Coleraine hit the front on 25 minutes as a defensive clearance landed at the boot of Jamie Glackin who steered his effort into the bottom corner. However, it took just ten minutes for Larne to even the contest as Mark Randall picked out Ben Doherty with a clever pass and the midfielder finished into the net. The goals kept on coming as Conor McKendry helped the Bannsiders regain their lead as he collected Patrick Kelly’s pass three minutes before half time and his drive took a wicked deflection off Cian Bolger before nestling in the corner of the net. In the second-half, Josh Carson was involved as Coleraine stretched their lead after 58 minutes. He was tripped by Kofi Balmer and Lyndon Kane stepped up to convert the penalty. The excellent Carson was the out of luck with a rasping 62nd minute drive which cannoned off the upright, with Gareth Deane making a late save to deny David McDaid from point-blank range.
The month would finalise with a trip from leaders Cliftonville to The Showgrounds on a bitterly cold afternoon on the North Coast. It was almost a sensational start when “keeper Luke McNicholas failed to clear his lines after just sixty seconds but Cliftonville eventually cleared the danger after Conor McKendry’s effort had been blocked. It would be Joe Gormley who posed Cliftonville’s first threat on the quarter hour mark but his shot was deflected past the post by an important Stevie O’Donnell block. Minutes later, Daniel Kearns and Gormley opened up the defence again on 21 minutes but Kearns was well off target with his effort. As the half drew to a close there were opportunities at both ends. First McNicholas made a super 43rd minute stop to deny Matthew Shevlin, before O’Donnell made another timely block to turn Gormley’s shot over the crossbar sixty seconds before half time. Eoin Bradley was introduced on 62 minutes and almost made a dramatic impact within sixty seconds. Josh Carson played him in and the striker’s dink over McNicholas bounced off the crossbar. Gareth Deane signed a new contract on Friday and proved his worth on 78 minutes with a superb point blank save to keep out Johnny Addis after he had first hit the post. That proved to be the last meaningful action as a hard fought encounter ended scoreless.