COLERAINE suffered an opening day defeat to Larne as they were beaten 4-2 at Inver Park…
As fans made a return to local football, it would prove to be a pulsating start to proceedings at Inver Park as Evan Tweed made a timely block to deny David McDaid’s strike from inside the box.
After Conor McKendry sent an effort wide from the edge of the area, the hosts would threaten as Ben Doherty’s corner kick was headed over the bar by summer arrival Kofi Balmer. Minutes later, Coleraine would carve out another opportunity as Tweed was able to pick out McKendry but the winger’s effort failed to test Rohan Ferguson.
On 15 minutes, Coleraine thought they had made the breakthrough as a long busting run by Jamie Glackin split the Larne defence in half. The midfielder – who was making his 100th appearance in Coleraine colours – slipped in Aaron Traynor and his cross met Matthew Shevlin but he was denied at close range by stopper Ferguson.
Less than sixty seconds later, Ferguson would show his reflexes to tip Tweed’s rasping effort from distance over the bar, with Mark Randall and Doherty both having a sight of goal at the other end.
Just after the half hour mark, Larne had a big chance when Jeff Hughes’ ball found Doherty and his cross met the head of Randall but somehow Deane tipped his header over the bar. However, the deadlock was broken from the resulting corner kick as Balmer headed in from six yards.
Both teams remained unchanged at the break but it would be Larne who looked to extend their advantage inside the first sixty seconds. A lively McDaid allowed the ball to roll across his body and pass released Randall but his daisy cutter was clawed away by Deane.
That save would prove to crucial on 51 minutes as the Bannsiders restored parity. The ball was worked out to Lyndon Kane on the right-hand side and his cross was headed into the net by Traynor.
On 55 minutes, there would be a commotion between both sets of players and benches and McDaid went in late on Traynor. With tensions running high, first-team coaches William Murphy and Tim McCann would be dismissed for their protestations.
On 68 minutes, Coleraine would take the lead as Shevlin done well to win a free-kick under the challenge of Balmer. The resulting free-kick was taken by McKendry with Shevlin rising highest to head the ball into the net via the crossbar.
That lead would only last four minutes as Larne drew level as a cross into the box was headed across goal by Jeff Hughes with McDaid on hand to blast home.
Both sides went in search for an elusive winner and it would arrive through a once-familiar source as Doherty was afforded too much time at the edge of box and his strike nestled into the bottom corner. At the death, the hosts would add a fourth as Lee Lynch was sent clean through and he found the back of the net.
LARNE: Ferguson, Balmer, Herron, Nasseri (Lynch ’81 mins), Randall (Mitchell ’90 mins), McDaid (Lusty ’90 mins), Doherty, Bolger (Watson ’83 mins), Cosgrove, Hughes, Jarvis.
Subs Not Used: Argyrides (GK), Kelly, Scott, Mitchell.
COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, Brown, Jarvis, McKendry, Lowry, Tweed (Friel ’89 mins), O’Donnell, Glackin, Traynor (Bradley ’89 mins), Shevlin (McLaughlin ’78 mins).
Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), Wilson, McConaghie, Kelly.
Referee: Andrew Davey