Belgium Bound

COLERAINE created history by becoming the first team from Northern Ireland to progress through a round in the UEFA Youth League…

The Bannsiders sealed a 2-2 draw in North Macedonia to run out 5-4 victors on aggregate and set-up a tie against Genk in the next round.

On a sunny day in Skopje, the hosts would make a bright start 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 Bannsiders conceded twice to Filip Todoroski in the first leg and the much courted man nearly punished Coleraine again as his strike was ruled out for offside.

On 22 minutes, Pobeda would threaten again as Todoroski’s lay off from the edge of the box teed up Hristijan Pop Antoski but he blazed over.

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.

Marty Smith changed his side’s shape at half-time and they had their first sight of goal as Jack Patton saw a goal bound effort blocked.

Minutes later, the Stripes went inches away from restoring parity as a delivery into the area by Rory Moffatt was cleared into the path of Luca Doherty. The midfielder hit an effort from the edge of the box which required Leonid Kofilovski to head the ball off the line.

Just before the hour mark, the Bannsiders would be left frustrated as Doherty went to ground inside the box after getting to the ball before the home defender. However, German referee Sven Jablonski wasn’t interested and waved play on.

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.

A trip to Belgium is next up for Marty Smith’s side.

FK POBEDA: Marinovski, Gjorcheski (Milanoski ‘85 mins), Kofilovski (Petejcuk ’85 mins), Kochoski, Tosheski, Debreslioski, Jakopetrevski (Nancheski ’85 mins), Todoroski, Antoski, Arizankoski, Krsteski (Varosanoski ’68 mins).

Subs Not Used: Shemkovski (GK), Shikov.

COLERAINE: McDowell, Stewart (Kelly ’73 mins), Watton (Callaghan ’26 mins), Campbell, Dealey, Stinson, Cullen (Smyth ’79 mins), Patton, Keogh (Curran ’46 mins), Moffatt, Doherty.

Subs Not Used: Donnelly (GK), Mackay, Feeney.

Referee: Sven Jablonski (Germany)