COLERAINE remained six points clear in the Danske Bank Premiership after a hard fought victory over Carrick Rangers at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena…
The Bannsiders took the lead after three minutes with the first attack of the game as Martin Smith picked out Brad Lyons inside the penalty area. The Ballymoney man nipped in front of Denver Gage to lay the ball into the path of Ciaron Harkin who drilled home for his third goal of the season.
However, the lead only lasted 9 minutes as David Ogilby brought down Martin Maybin outside the box. Former Coleraine full-back Mark Edgar stepped-up and hit a perfect free-kick into the top corner. Moments later, Carrick nearly took the lead as Darren Larmour’s header was acrobatically cleared off the line by Aaron Traynor.
In a frantic opening to the match, it was the visitors who should have scored as a fantastic through ball by Smith found the run of Jamie McGonigle. The striker hit the ball low which allowed Harry Doherty to make the save. The Stripes had several half chances through Harkin, Darren McCauley and McGonigle but all failed to find the target.
On the stroke of half-time, Coleraine nearly went ahead in bizarre fashion as Adam Mullan’s fantastic cross wasn’t defended well by Gage with the ball landing to McGonigle at the back post. The Northern Ireland under-21 international reacted well to the loose ball but Doherty was there to make an outstanding save. From the resulting corner, the Bannsiders took the lead as Brad Lyons leaped well to head home his second goal of the season.
Coleraine nearly profited from another excellent delivery by Mullan on 52 minutes as the full-back’s cross just evaded a vital touch by Lyons and McGonigle. At the other end, the league leaders had Chris Johns to thank as the stopper kept out Glenn Taggarts’s rasping drive, before somehow managing to save Smith’s rebound.
Just after the hour mark, Coleraine thought they had doubled their advantage as Edgar’s clearance was charged down by Lyons and the ball came back off the post and away to safety. It was to be a frustrating day for the 20-year-old as he struck wide from McCauley’s cross, before hitting an effort over the bar from a corner-kick.
On 73 minutes, the three points were sealed as the Stripes played neat football into the Carrick penalty area. Once again, Lyons charged down a defensive clearance which cannoned back off the crossbar with McGonigle pouncing for his ninth goal of the season.
Oran Kearney’s men could have added further gloss to the scoreline as Lyons hit the woodwork for a third time, McGonigle’s deflected strike being saved and substitute Ian Parkhill firing over as Coleraine earned all three points.
CARRICK RANGERS: Doherty, Chapman, Gage, Larmour. Edgar, McAllister (Mooney ’69), Taggart, Hassin, Roy (Smyth ’43), Maybin (Suarez ’62), Smith.
Subs Not Used: McMullan, Morrow.
COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Ogilby, McCauley (Whiteside ’89), Smith (Parkhill ’62), Carson (McCready ’86), McConaghie, Lyons, Traynor, McGonigle.
Subs Not Used: Douglas, Kee.