COLERAINE suffered a carbon copy of their Boxing Day defeat last year as Ross Redman’s free-kick gave Ballymena United all three points on Warden Street…
Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney kept faith with the same starting eleven that drew with Linfield and they made a bright opening as Conor McKendry blazed over after good work from Lyndon Kane and Lee Lynch, before Jamie Glackin would also fail to find the target after being picked out by Evan McLaughlin.
However, it would be the hosts who would take the lead on 16 minutes as Redman’s free-kick wasn’t defended and Michael Place was in the right place at the right time to stab the ball home.
After Matthew Shevlin would have a goal disallowed for offside, the Stripes would be thwarted yet again but this time it was Sean O’Neill as the United ‘keeper kept out Glackin’s attempt.
The last chance of the half would fall to the Sky Blues as David McDaid picked up possession 25 yards from goal and his strike from distance fizzed inches past the far post.
Coleraine would enjoy plenty of the ball throughout the contest and brought on James McLaughlin in a bid to get a much needed equaliser. That would pay dividends on 66 minutes as Glackin’s shot was fumbled into the path of Shevlin who lashed the ball home.
The Bannsiders were on the front foot and would go close three times in as many minutes as Shevlin fired over, James McLaughlin also misfired, with Shevlin losing his footing when through on goal.
On 80 minutes, Coleraine would be reduced to ten men as Conor McDermott received his marching orders for a second bookable offence after tugging the shirt of Kenny Kane. Despite being a man down, they went close to taking the lead as McKendry’s curling effort went narrowly wide.
As the game entered stoppage time, referee Jamie Robinson would go into pocket yet again to produce a second red card as Adam Mullan was dismissed. The resulting free-kick would compound matters even more as Redman buried a 25-yard free-kick beyond the reach of Gallagher.
Kearney’s men pushed for a last gasp equaliser and went close as Lyndon Kane’s goal bound effort was somehow clawed away by O’Neill and hit the top of the crossbar.
BALLYMENA UNITED: O’Neill, Redman, Whiteside, McDaid, Kelly (Henderson ’72 mins), Waide, Kane, Gibson (Parkhouse ’72 mins), Keeley, Graham, Place.
Subs Not Used: Loughran, Tweed, Clarke.
COLERAINE: Gallagher, Kane, Mullan, McKendry, Carson, O’Donnell, Lynch, Glackin, E. McLaughlin (J. McLaughlin ’64 mins), McDermott, Shevlin (A. Jarvis ’90 mins).
Subs Not Used: Deane (GK), Farren, O’Mahony, Patton, Dealey.
Referee: Jamie Robinson