COLERAINE couldn’t make any significant gains in February as they were knocked out of the Irish Cup on penalties, as well as losing back-to-back games against Crusaders and Linfield…
The first game of the month would see Coleraine travel to Cliftonville for yet another Irish Cup tie at Solitude. Despite looking for a good start, the Bannsiders would trail to an early goal as Ronan Hale seized upon a poor backpass to find the back of the net. Oran Kearney brought on Jack O’Mahony at the interval and the introduction of the midfielder proved to be a masterstroke as he brought the Stripes level on 53 minutes. The summer arrival from Glenavon was picked out by Lyndon Kane and finished with aplomb for his first goal since moving to The Showgrounds. Moments later, the Bannsiders would take the lead on 65 minutes as a corner kick wasn’t cleared by the Reds and Stephen O’Donnell diverted the ball towards the net. A last ditch attempt by Ronan Hale to clear the ball didn’t materialise as the Stripes went 2-1 ahead. Just when the visitors thought they had done enough, they would be hit with a late sucker punch in added time as Levi Ives’ cross was prodded home by Jamie McDonagh to force the tie into extra-time. After no more goals in the subsequent 30 minutes, the tie would be decided by penalties with Coleraine missing three out of their four spot kicks as Shevlin, Aaron Jarvis and Rodney Brown were denied by Gartside, which allowed Ives to slot away the winning penalty.
A young Coleraine side would then miss out on North-West Senior Cup glory as they were beaten by Ballinamallard United at The Showgrounds. The visitors would find themselves 2-0 up inside the opening half hour as Patrick Ferry poked in from Nick Palmer’s cross, before the striker was in the right place at the right time to pounce on slack defending. After Caolan McAleer hit the crossbar, the same player would make it 3-0 before the interval as the winger’s shot from distance went into the back of the net. The Mallards would hit the post on three occasions in the second-half but did it make it 4-0 as Ferry completed his hat-trick after heading in from McAleer’s delivery. However, the Bannsiders finished strongly and grabbed a consolation goal as Eamon Fyfe’s shot on the turn was blasted into the back of the net.
Coleraine would have to lick their wounds after two Cup defeats as Glentoran made their way to the Ballycastle Road. In a slow start, the hosts would be awarded a penalty on 22 minutes as Andy Scott was brought down by Luke McCullough. The resulting spot kick would be blazed over the bar by Shevlin. However, Coleraine wouldn’t have to wait long to make the breakthrough as Josh Carson’s cross from the right-hand side was steered into the net by Dean Jarvis for his second goal of the season. In a late first-half twist, Glentoran would go into the interval level as a dangerous free-kick by Bobby Burns went into the net via a wicked deflection from Aaron Jarvis. With less than ten minutes remaining, Glentoran would hit the front as Conor McMenamin cut in from the right-hand side and hit an unstoppable curling effort into the top corner. In front of the Railway End, there would be late drama as a corner kick was headed on by Eamon Fyfe and Shevlin was in the right place at the right time to blast the ball home to earn a 2-2 draw.
Newry City would then make the lengthy midweek trip to The Showgrounds as Coleraine somehow only ran out 1-0 victors. Oran Kearney’s side would make a strong start as Carson went close inside sixty seconds but the breakthrough would arrive on ten minutes as Scott crossed for Shevlin who made no mistake from close range. Coleraine would threaten twice before the interval as Carson would once again be denied by Maguire, with the stopper being alert to prevent an own goal by Andrew Martin in bizarre circumstances. The Stripes would make a strong start to the second-half as Fyfe and Shevlin both spurned opportunities to double the lead as Maguire was busy to also prevent Kane and Lee Lynch. Just after the hour mark, the hosts would threaten yet again as Dean Jarvis’ cross was headed over by Fyfe. Despite creating very few chances, Newry would go within a matter of inches of levelling the scores as Declan Carville’s cross found its way to Brian Healy with the midfielder’s half volley sailing just over the bar. The Bannsiders’ night in front of goal would be summed up at the death as Shevlin hit the crossbar from close range after being found by Lynch, however, the early goal proved decisive.
The month would end poorly for the Bannsiders as they lost successive away games on the road by a 2-0 scoreline. The first was at Seaview against Crusaders as Paul Heatley seized upon poor defending to net the hosts into a first-half lead, before the three points were secured for Stephen Baxter’s men with just four minutes to go as Adam Lecky fired home from Philip Lowry’s cutback. A week later, the Stripes would be on their way to Windsor Park and they would trail with just 13 minutes on the clock as Chris Shields netted from the spot after Dean Jarvis was adjudged to have handled inside the box. Just after Daniel Finlayson headed wide, Coleraine would end the half strongly as Chris Johns made a sublime save to deny Glackin after he was picked out by O’Mahony. However, Linfield would go further ahead on 50 minutes as Matthew Clarke was denied by a superb stop by Deane, however, the ball would land at Eetu Vertainen who had the simple task of finding the back of the net.
Player of the Month: Dean Jarvis
Goal of the Month: Eamon Fyfe vs Ballinamallard United