COLERAINE and Linfield couldn’t be separated for the second time this season as both teams had to settle for a draw at Windsor Park…
A mixture of illness and injuries meant Oran Kearney had to make three changes as Martin Gallagher replaced Gareth Deane between the sticks, whilst Aaron Jarvis and Lee Lynch were drafted in at the expense of Conor McDermott and Josh Carson.
Linfield – who had won six out of their last seven Premiership fixtures heading into the contest – threatened after just two minutes on the clock as Matthew Clarke’s cross was headed wide by Robbie McDaid, before Eetu Vertainen also failed to find the target after being picked out by Jamie Mulgrew.
The Blues would create two half chances thereafter as Vertainen and Matthew Clarke both failed to test Gallagher from distance. However, the hosts thought they had edged ahead on 33 minutes as Daniel Finlayson’s header was somehow tipped around the post by Gallagher.
Coleraine enjoyed spells forward throughout the opening 45 minutes but failed to test Chris Johns, with Gallagher alert yet again before the break to thwart Joel Cooper after the winger burst into the box.
David Healy’s side would start where they let off and carved out a chance on 49 minutes as Vertainen lashed wide after the ball landed to his feet from a deflected free-kick, with the Finnish striker also diverting a header off target soon after.
After Stephen Lowry replaced Jack O’Mahony, Linfield would go inches away from taking the lead as Cooper managed to keep the ball in on the by-line and crossed for Robbie McDaid who could only fire wide from a good position.
The Bannsiders would hand a debut to Eamon Fyfe following his move from Dundela but Linfield would keep creating chances as Andrew Clarke pulled an effort wide, Cooper’s cross flashed across the goal and Vertainen would once again find Gallagher in his way of finding the net.
However, Coleraine would end the game strong as Fyfe’s free-kick went straight into the gloves of Chris Johns, with the same player lashing a strike on the turn over the bar moments later.
A seventh consecutive clean sheet for Coleraine who now turn their focus to the Irish Cup this weekend.
LINFIELD: Johns, Roscoe-Byrne, Newberry, Shields, Cooper, McDaid (McKee ’67 mins), M. Clarke, Finlayson, Mulgrew, Vertainen, Palmer (A. Clarke ’67 mins).
Subs Not Used: Walsh (GK), McClean, Devine, Pepper, Quinn.
COLERAINE: Gallagher, Kane, D. Jarvis, A. Jarvis, McKendry (Fyfe ’74 mins), Farren, O’Donnell, Lynch, Glackin (McCrudden ’85 mins), O’Mahony (Lowry ’61 mins), Shevlin.
Subs Not Used: McDowell (GK), Mullan, Brown, McLaughlin.
Referee: Ian McNabb