COLERAINE would ensure that their hopes of a passage through to the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League weren’t over as they battled to a narrow defeat in Bosnia…
The Bannsiders – who took a famous scalp against NK Maribor last year – took the lead through Ben Doherty but they were pegged back from the spot as Aaron Traynor was adjudged to have handled inside the box.
The visitors would have more frustration from the spot in the second half as Lyndon Kane was dismissed for a deliberate hand ball, with Brandao bagging again.
However, Coleraine held firm to only lose by a single goal ahead of the second leg at Mourneview Park next Thursday.
In a match played in a soaring heat, the hosts would carve out the first chance on eight minutes as Samir Radovac fired over the top from distance.
With the Bannsiders’ only shot on target in the first half they took the lead a minute later. A quick break found Doherty and the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner.
This sparked the Bosnian side into life as Haris Ovcina, Mehmed Cosic and Dzenan Zajmovic all failed to test Gareth Deane from inside the box.
However, the hosts’ pressure would finally pay off on 35 minutes as Traynor was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. The ball was picked up by Brandao de Souza who calmly rolled his strike into the bottom corner.
FK Velez – who were playing in their first European tie for 33 years – made a double substitution at the break and it almost paid dividends as Samir Zeljkovic went close on two occasions.
Just after the hour mark, Gareth Deane was called into action to dive low to save Edo Vehabovic’s well driven strike from outside the box.
On 65 minutes, Coleraine would suffer a major blow as full-back Kane cleared a goal bound effort with his hand resulting in a second spot kick for the Bosnian side.
The defender also received his marching orders with Brandao comfortably converting for a second time.
Unsurprisingly, the Bannsiders faced an onslaught from the hosts as the lively substitute Omar Prses was looking dangerous down the left hand side.
Remarkably, Oran Kearney’s side almost grabbed the most unlikeliest of equalisers as Aaron Jarvis’ dipping effort just sailed inches over the crossbar.
There would be one final scare for Coleraine as Radovac was found unmarked inside the six yard box, but amazingly, he would only head straight into the arms of Deane.
FK VELEZ MOSTAR: Bogdanovic, Radovic (Zubanovic ’82 mins), Zvonic (Isic ’46 mins), Zeljkovic, Cosic, Andusic (Vehabovic ’58 mins), Ovcina, De Souza (Georgijevic ’68 mins), Hasanovic (Prses ’46 mins), Zajmovic, Radovac.
Subs Not Used: Kacavenda (GK), Osmic, Sijamija, Ferreyra, Alagic.
COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, Canning, Brown, Doherty, Lowry, Carson, Wilson, Glackin, Traynor (McLaughlin ’83 mins), Shevlin (Jarvis ’69 mins).
Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), Bradley, Allen, Kelly, Friel.
Referee: Abdulkadir Bitigen (Turkey)