OCTOBER would be a mixed bag of results as the Stripes suffered three Premiership defeats but progressed in the BetMcLean Cup and North-West Cup, as well as the UEFA Youth League…
The Stripes would lose on the road for a second successive fixture to start October as goals from Leroy Millar and Paul O’Neill gave the hosts all three points at Inver Park. After Jamie Glackin would spurn a glorious chance for the visitors, Larne would take the lead on six minutes as a cross into the area by Tomas Cosgrove was met by the head of Millar who found the back of the net. On 54 minutes, Coleraine had Marty Gallagher to thank as the stopper denied O’Neill from an acute angle before Lee Bonis saw a free-kick fizz past the post. The Bannsiders introduced Michael McCrudden from the bench and this almost had the desired effect as the substitute saw a goal bound effort deflected wide. However, Larne would clinch a decisive second on 83 minutes as a ball over the top wasn’t defended and this allowed O’Neill to run through on goal and fire past Gallagher.
Coleraine would be on their travels three days later as they were paired with derby rivals Ballymena United in the BetMcLean Cup. A scoreless first-half would see the hosts threaten through Conor Keeley and Kenny Kane, whilst at the other end, Lyndon Kane fired over the crossbar from distance. United would miss another chance at the start of the second-half as Kane fired wide yet again, with Coleraine much improved after the break with Conor McDermott, Matthew Shevlin and Conor McKendry being denied. Coleraine would be presented with the perfect opportunity to take the lead as Shevlin was tugged inside the box, however, the same player would see his penalty saved as Michael Place was sent off. The breakthrough would arrive on 80 minutes as Lee Lynch released Glackin on the right-hand side and his cross was prodded home by McKendry at the back post.
Marty Smith’s U19 side travelled to North Macedonia for the second leg of their UEFA Youth League clash against FK Pobeda, holding a 3-2 aggregate lead after the five-goal thriller at The Showgrounds. The hosts would make all the early running in Skopje and took the lead on six minutes. The ball would be played to Viktor Tosheski on the right-hand side and the winger burst forward into the box and calmly slotted past Billy McDowell. The North Macedonian side were becoming rampant and they were left to rue another glorious chance two minutes later. This time Tosheski would be the provider for Todoroski who failed to hit the target from 12 yards. The final chance of the half would be created by Pobeda as a ball over the top of the defence was seized upon by David Debreslioski who advanced one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Thankfully, for the Bannsiders he was unable to hit the target. After Patton would see a strike easily held by Vasilij Marinovski, the Stripes would draw level on 82 minutes. A sublime ball by Doherty picked out substitute Luke Kelly and he made no mistake by finding the bottom corner. With Pobeda pushing forward, Coleraine missed an opportunity to go ahead as Daniel Smyth was sent clean through but he was thwarted by Marinovski. However, a minute later, the comeback would be complete as Rory Moffatt’s low free-kick nestled into the bottom corner. The hosts ensured there would be a grandstand finish as they were awarded a penalty on 90 minutes. The spot kick was comfortably dispatched by Todoroski but that was as good as it got for Pobeda as Coleraine held firm.
Oran Kearney’s men would then face Linfield at home but the contest would end in a scoreless draw despite Stephen Fallon twice going close for the Blues, whilst at the other end, McKendry and Carson would both have efforts saved. The following week, Coleraine would visit Ballymena United yet again in Premiership duty and they left wondering how they lost, never mind left with a point. On 16 minutes, the Sky Blues would take the lead as Redman’s free-kick was guided into the net by Michael Place, with Coleraine having a goal disallowed for offside three minutes later as Shevlin tapped home from Stephen O’Donnell’s knock down. However, on 64 minutes, Coleraine did draw level as Glackin’s shot was parried by O’Neill and Shevlin was in the right place at the right time to blast the ball into the net. This gave the visitors some momentum as James McLaughlin arrowed over after being spotted by Lynch. The game would turn on its head in the final ten minutes as Conor McDermott and Adam Mullan were both dismissed for two bookable offences and United would make their numerical advantage count as Redman planted a free-kick into the bottom corner in added time. At the death, Coleraine’s day would be summed up as Lyndon Kane’s close range strike was somehow clawed away by O’Neill as the ball struck the top of the crossbar.
The last four of the North-West Senior Cup would see Coleraine drawn away to Premier Intermediate side Moyola Park. The hosts would hold the half-time lead as former Coleraine winger Ian Parkhill netted from the spot after being fouled inside the box. On 74 minutes, referee Gareth Stewart would point to the spot for a second time after Aaron Jarvis was upended by Caolan Gillan inside the box. The ball was grabbed by James McLaughlin who steered in from 12 yards on his 200th appearance for the club to send the tie into extra-time. A minute into second-half of extra-time, Coleraine took the lead for the first time in the contest as a dangerous cross into the area by Jack O’Mahony deflected off a defender and went into the net via the post. However, a North-West Senior Cup final date with Ballinamallard United was confirmed on 113 minutes as the ball was worked out to Aaron Jarvis at the edge of the box and he hit a superb curling effort beyond the reach of Andy Findlay and into the net.
Defensive frailties would continue for the Stripes as they were beaten 4-2 at home by Cliftonville to make it back-to-back defeats in the Premiership. Coleraine would create the first chance of the contest as Lynch saw a chance smothered by Nathan Gartside, with the Reds punishing that mistake by scoring two goals in as many minutes through Rory Hale. After Lynch saw another effort saved, the Bannsiders finally got a goal back on the stroke of half-time as McKendry’s effort deflected off Jonny Addis and went into the net. Cliftonville would restore their two goal buffer as Ryan Curran headed in from a corner on 62 minutes but back came Coleraine as Shevlin prodded home from Carson’s cross. Despite setting up a grandstand finish, the Reds would secure all three points with a minute remaining as Joe Gormley headed home from Luke Turner’s cross.
The U19’s continued their UEFA Youth League campaign by being drawn against classy Belgian side KRC Genk. The Belgian side would edge in front on 23 minutes as a corner kick wasn’t dealt with by the Coleraine defence and Evan Rotundo had the simple task of finding the back of the net. After McDowell denied Arabaci, the visitors would stretch their advantage on the half hour mark as the impressive Nolan Martens cut the ball back for Wilson da Costa who stroked his effort into the bottom corner. The afternoon would be a busy one for McDowell as he thwarted Arabaci yet again before the stopper somehow made a terrific double save when it looked like Rotundo was a shoe-in to bag his second of the game. The Belgians would be camped in the Coleraine half with Martens blazing a strike over the bar, Diawara was denied at close range but it would be 3-0 on 63 minutes as Kamiel Van de Perre burst into the box and found the bottom corner. After McDowell would be on hand to deny Thomas Claes from just outside the 18 yard box, the same player would make amends on 83 minutes as he rounded the ‘keeper and tapped the ball into an empty net.
Kearney’s men would finish the month at home to Portadown and knew they needed to get back to winning ways after an inconsistent month. However, they certainly did that by netting twice in each half to run 4-0 victors against the Ports who had appointed Niall Currie as manager for a second time. The hosts would take the lead after just four minutes as a corner kick by Lynch was headed into his own net by Paddy McNally. Six minutes later, the advantage would be doubled as a lovely ball by McDermott was seized upon by Lynch who had the vision and accuracy to lob the ball over Jethren Barr. The second-half would start in the same vein as it only took five minutes for Coleraine to make it 3-0 as Shevlin powered home after good initial work by James McLaughlin and McDermott. On 54 minutes, a fourth goal would be scored as Glackin laid the ball out to Lynch on the right-hand side, and after his cross wasn’t defended, McLaughlin would be on hand to rifle into the back of the net.
Player of the Month: Conor McDermott
Goal of the Month: Lee Lynch vs Portadown