TWO stunning solo strikes from Jordan Stewart condemned Coleraine to defeat at Windsor Park…
By: Michael Anderson
On a night when both teams ended up with ten men, two moments of magic gave the Blues a valuable victory.
Curtis Allen came off the bench to give the Bannsiders hope with a late goal but it was too little too late.
Linfield were almost handed a sixth minute opener after an uncharacteristic error by Aaron Canning.
Snowy’s clearance went straight to Navid Nasseri whose shot was well saved by Gareth Deane.
Josh Carson provided Coleraine’s first threat when he cut inside on 12 minutes but his drive went over the top.
Livewire Stewart then took centre stage with his first piece of individual brilliance after 18 minutes.
Matthew Clarke and Nasseri combined before Clarke found Stewart, and his quick footwork left several players grounded before lashing the ball into the roof of the net.
Nasseri blazed wide two minutes later from Aaron Traynor’s weak clearance, while at the other end, Aaron Jarvis shot from outside the box but his effort was always rising.
Despite Coleraine having plenty of possession – but failing to provide a real threat in the final third – Linfield always posed a threat on the attack.
Shane Lavery looked set to score when he burst clear on 35 minutes but he dragged his shot wide.
A blunder by ‘keeper Chris Johns almost presented the Bannsiders with an equaliser 60 seconds later.
His attempted pass out from the back fell to Jamie Glackin who was fouled by Niall Quinn as he attempted to knock the ball into an empty net.
It was the diminutive Stewart who delivered another silky solo finish to sicken the visitors right on the stroke of half time.
This time he was teed up by Lavery. He nipped in ahead of Stevie O’Donnell and around Deane before coolly finishing from close range.
Linfield continued to look menacing and Kirk Millar got on the end of Nasseri’s 54th minutes cross to the back post but his shot went into the side netting.
Coleraine’s night took another turn for the worse when Deane had to go off injured with a suspected dislocated finger after tipping Cammy Palmer’s 59th minute shot over the crossbar.
An entertaining game between the League’s top two teams took another twist on 62 minutes when Quinn was sent off for a foul on Matthew Shevlin after an earlier yellow for a challenge on Glackin.
It was 71 minutes before Johns had his first shot to save, getting down to comfortably gather Carson’s effort.
Substitute Curtis Allen headed home a Glackin cross three minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish.
But those hopes vanished – despite six minutes injury time – when Canning was shown a straight red card for tripping Christy Mazinga.
Coleraine will want to get back to winning ways and quickly… starting with Saturday’s tea time test at Warrenpoint.
LINFIELD: Johns, Larkin, Haughey, Callacher, Clarke, Quinn, Palmer, Millar, Nasseri (Fallon ’63 mins), Stewart, Lavery (Manzinga ’75 mins).
Subs Not Used: Moore (GK), Pepper, Stafford, Newberry, Waterworth.
COLERAINE: Deane (Gallagher ’60 mins), Kane, O’Donnell, Canning, Traynor, Carson, Lowry, Jarvis (Parkhill ’69 mins), Glackin, Shevlin (Allen ’69 mins), Bradley.
Subs Not Used: Wilson, Tweed, Nixon, Beverland.
Referee: Andrew Davey