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Danske Bank Premiership: Matchday 1

Coleraine 0 - 1 Ballymena United
16 Oct 2020 - 19:45The Showgrounds

COLERAINE would suffer an opening day defeat as Kofi Balmer’s first half header separated the two sides at The Showgrounds…

The hosts would threaten on three minutes as Ben Doherty’s free-kick sailed over the crossbar. At the other end, Coleraine almost gifted the visitors the lead as Stephen O’Donnell went agonisingly close to heading into his own net.

David Jeffrey handed a debut to Northern Ireland international Shay McCartan and he showed his promise early doors as he slipped past the challenges of two defenders and fired straight at Gareth Deane.

However, the Sky Blues would make the breakthrough on 27 minutes as defender Kofi Balmer was left unmarked inside the box and he headed home. Eight minutes later, United almost profited from another corner kick but Ciaran Kelly was unable to direct a header on target.

The hosts struggled to find any rhythm in their play and Ballymena will feel they should have added a second on 42 minutes as Deane was alert to stop Leroy Millar from inside the area.

However, there would be drama before the half-time whistle as a seventh player would be sent-off in the derby in the last nine matches. As Coleraine looked to go on the counter attack with Stewart Nixon, the ex-Carrick Rangers ace was brought down by Joshua Kelly and after initially receiving a yellow card by Andrew Davey, the whistler reversed the decision and displayed a red.

The Bannsiders would only make their extra man count after the hour mark as James McLaughlin tested Glendinning from distance, before the same player would blaze over the crossbar after neat build-up play by Nixon.

On 65 minutes, Oran Kearney’s men thought they had grabbed an equaliser as McLaughlin could only strike against the post, with the rebound falling at the feet of Josh Carson but his effort was cleared off the line by Trai Hume.

It was becoming one way traffic for the League Cup holders and they spurned yet another glorious chance to level the scores as a ball into the box fell to Stephen Lowry but the midfielder couldn’t convert from six yards.

However after soaking up all that pressure the Braidmen would carve out a fantastic opportunity as Ryan Waide would be found inside the area but he failed to hit the target.

As the clock ticked closer to 90 minutes, Ballymena were sensing a major scalp as substitute Jonny Addis made a timely block to deny Ian Parkhill from certainly levelling the scores.

COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin, Carson, McConaghie, Tweed, O’Donnell (Allen ’69 mins), Glackin, Nixon (Parkhill ’84 mins)

Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), Douglas, Wilson, Tosh, McLean.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Glendinning, Redman, McCullough, McElroy, McCartan (Harpur ’74 mins), Strain, Balmer (Addis ’78 mins), Hume, Millar, C. Kelly, J. Kelly.

Subs Not Used: Williamson (GK), A. Kane, McKeown, Winchester, K. Kane.

Referee: Andrew Davey