COLERAINE were cruelly denied all three points at The Showgrounds as Joe Gormley pounced late on to give Cliftonville a share of the spoils on the opening day of the season…
In the 200th league meeting between the two sides, it took until the 18th minute for the first meaningful chance of the game to arrive. James McLaughlin – who scored an audacious overhead kick the last time the two clubs met – almost repeated that feat but Richard Brush was alert to deny the striker.
Just before the hour mark, Cliftonville thought they had taken the lead as a long kick by ‘keeper Brush was flicked on by Conor McMenamin into the path of Gormley. The predatory striker burst into the box but his effort was straight into the arms of Chris Johns.
At the other end, the Coleraine supporters in the Railway End thought the Bannsiders had broken the deadlock as a free-kick delivery from Ian Parkhill met the head of Stephen Lowry, but the Limavady man failed to find the target.
There would be two further chances before the half-time interval as the speedy Thomas Maguire hit a daisycutter inches wide of the post, before Ben Doherty’s deflected strike smashed off the crossbar with Brush rooted to the spot.
The second-half was barely two minutes old when the Reds threatened again as Joe Gorman headed the ball into the path of Gormley, but his turn and strike fired wide. Minutes later, the ball would present itself to Eoin Bradley but the former Glenavon man failed to find the target.
However, the deadlock was broken on 64 minutes as a fantastic cross by Ben Doherty was flicked goalwards by Bradley and into the bottom corner.
Paddy McLaughlin’s side should have equalised on 69 minutes as Ronan Doherty ran through the Coleraine midfield and squared the ball out to McMenamin. The ex-Warrenpoint Town player was one-on-one with Johns, but he failed to find the net. Two minutes later, Aaron Canning was robbed in possession by Gormley and he would fire over the bar from 18 yards.
The Stripes looked for a vital second goal and it nearly arrived on 73 minutes as McLaughlin robbed the Cliftonville defence, shifted the ball onto his left foot and drilled a shot wide, before Parkhill’s goalbound effort was deflected by the Reds’ rearguard.
The visitors ensured that they would leave with a point as a long ball wasn’t defended by Gareth McConaghie and Ryan Curran had the vision to pick out Gormley who rifled home from eight yards.
COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Canning, Doherty, Lowry (Shiels ’88 mins), McLaughlin (Glackin ’75 mins), Bradley (Burns ’85 mins), Carson, McConaghie, O’Donnell, Parkhill.
Subs Not Used: Mullan, Douglas, Gawne, McGuckin.
CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott, Ives, R. Curran, Wilson, Bagnall (C. Curran ’84 mins), Doherty, Gormley, Maguire (Harkin ’65 mins), McMenamin (Garrett ’76 mins), Gorman.
Subs Not Used: Dunne (GK), Foster, A. Donnelly.
Referee: Ian McNabb