IT was a case of six of the best as Coleraine stretched their winning run at a bitterly cold Showgrounds today…
By: Michael Anderson
Oran Kearney’s outfit dug in deep to make it six wins on the spin thanks to Stephen Lowry’s late winner.
Crusaders, struggling for away form this season, started the game in confident fashion and had the hosts on the backfoot.
They were on top during the early exchanges and edged ahead with an opportunistic goal from former player Jamie McGonigle after 17 minutes.
There appeared little danger when the ball arrived at the feet of Gareth Deane, but the ‘keeper’s clearance crashed off Adam Lecky and fell to McGonigle who still had a lot to do but he expertly steered the ball home from outside the box.
Paul Heatley was next to pose a threat as he lashed a shot wide.
Coleraine, with several changes from the midweek win at Larne, had been struggling to cause the Crues problems. It took them 29 minutes to mount a serious threat when Evan Tweed fired over the top.
But just two minutes later the Bannsiders were level with Curtis Allen’s first league goal of the season. Lyndon Kane collected Aaron Traynor’s cross and his ball was turned home from close range by the striker.
Coleraine almost gifted Crusaders a second goal within three minutes of the equaliser when Gareth McConaghie’s header was intercepted by Heatley but Deane was out quickly to smother his shot.
Crusaders went close to restoring their lead before the hour mark when McGonigle collected Declan Caddell’s cross but his well struck shot went narrowly past the far post. At the other end, Traynor sent in a teasing cross but it was just out of the reach of both Bradley and Allen.
Jordan Forsythe brought a good save out of Deane who reacted well to tip his attempted lob over the crossbar.
But it was Coleraine who clinched victory and maintained their winning run with a dramatic late winner.
Jamie Glackin floated over a great free kick sixty seconds from time and substitute Stephen Lowry rose to head home.
It was a hard earned win for Oran Kearney’s men and central defender McConaghie admitted the game was exactly what he expected.
“Unlike Tuesday at Larne, we knew Crusaders wouldn’t play as much football and it would be much more direct,” said Gareth.
“We knew they get it up early to Lecky or Owens and that it was important to try and pick up the second balls.
“It was a completely different game to Tuesday’s but as players you have to adapt.”
Adapt they certainly did and next up is Cliftonville at The Showgrounds on Tuesday night.
COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, McConaghie, O’Donnell (Lowry ’32 mins), Canning, Traynor, Carson, Tweed (Nixon ’77 mins), Glackin, Allen, Bradley (McLaughlin ’63 mins).
Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), Jarvis, Wilson, Parkhill.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Hegarty, Wilson, Lowry, McGonigle (Cushley ’84 mins), Caddell, Forsythe, O’Rourke, Lecky (Owens ’78 mins), Heatley (Kennedy ’56 mins).
Subs Not Used: Shields (GK), Weir, Ruddy, Larmour.
Referee: Raymond Crangle