COLERAINE produced a thrilling comeback to leave Solitude with a share of the spoils…
The Bannsiders would recall Stephen O’Donnell and Lee Lynch into the starting eleven after last weekend’s success against Portadown, but it would be the hosts who would threaten first as Rory Hale’s thunderbolt had to be tipped over the bar by Martin Gallagher.
However, the Reds would hit the front on 11 minutes as the ball was fed into the path of Ronan Hale and the striker let fly with a shot from distance that spun under the body of Gallagher and trickled over the line.
This spurred Paddy McLaughlin’s side into life and they thought they had doubled their lead on 23 minutes as Kris Lowe picked out Rory Hale inside the box but the midfielder was denied by Gallagher.
It took until the 25th minute for Coleraine to show their attacking threat as Conor McKendry showed neat foot work at the edge of the area but his strike failed to find the target, before the winger just missed a vital touch onto Conor McDermott’s cross into the box moments later.
After Lyndon Kane would force Nathan Gartside into palming his effort away for a corner, Cliftonville would go further ahead on 57 minutes. A corner kick by Ronan Doherty went through a sea of bodies and the ball nestled into the back of the net.
The Bannsiders needed an instant lifeline and Oran Kearney decided to bring on Andy Scott and Michael McCrudden – but Coleraine would halve the deficit through a familiar source. A through ball by Dean Jarvis released Matthew Shevlin who was brought down by Jonny Addis, with Shevlin keeping his cool from 12 yards on 64 minutes.
Remarkably, the comeback would be completed just two minutes later as a delightful cross into the box by Jamie Glackin met Shevlin who steered the ball into the net for his 21st goal of the campaign.
The Reds were left shell shocked by blowing a two-goal lead but they would end the game brightly as Joe Gormley and Ronan Hale were both denied by Gallagher who atoned for his previous error.
A point earned by Coleraine who will be pleased to leave north Belfast with a share of the spoils.
CLIFTONVILLE: Gartside, Ives, Addis, Gallagher, Rory Hale (Casey ’76 mins), McDonagh (Gormley ’71 mins), Lowe, Doherty (Parkhouse ’85 mins), Turner, Ronan Hale, Moore.
Subs Not Used: Doherty (GK), C. Curran, R. Curran, Robinson.
COLERAINE: Gallagher, Kane, D. Jarvis, Brown, McKendry (McCrudden ’62 mins), Carson, O’Donnell, Lynch (Scott ’62 mins), Glackin, McDermott, Shevlin (Fyfe ’80 mins).
Subs Not Used: Deane (GK), A. Jarvis, Farren, O’Mahony.
Referee: Raymond Crangle