Europa Conference League Play-Offs: Semi-Final

Cliftonville 2 - 1 Coleraine
10 May 2023 - 19:45Solitude

COLERAINE would be denied a chance of securing European football next season as they were beaten by Cliftonville at Solitude…

The Bannsiders would give themselves an uphill task as they conceded with just four minutes on the clock. A reverse pass sent Joe Gormley on his way and he picked out Ryan Curran inside the box who found the back of the net with a composed finish.

Things would go from bad to worse on 20 minutes as Cliftonville doubled their advantage as the Stripes allowed Cliftonville too much space yet again. A long ball forward by Jonny Addis wasn’t defended and Ronan Doherty burst through and his shot went through the gloves of Gareth Deane and into the back of the net.

It could have been 3-0 six minutes later as Cliftonville worked the ball into the wide areas and when the ball was cleared, midfielder Chris Gallagher would see his deflected strike go straight down the throat of Deane.

The Stripes would threaten twice from set-pieces before the half-time interval as Stephen O’Donnell’s downwards header was clawed away by Nathan Gartside, before Stephen Lowry’s shot clipped off Matthew Shevlin and hit the top of the crossbar.

Coleraine would create the first sight of goal after the interval as Lowry’s well driven free-kick hit a sea of bodies but Gartside was alert to adjust his positioning and collect the ball.

Just before the hour mark, Cliftonville almost put the game to bed and in fine style. A quick corner-kick routine saw Gallagher and Ronan Hale play a quick one-two with the latter’s cross just going inches too high for Luke Turner to convert.

However, Coleraine would grab themselves a lifeline on 72 minutes and through a familiar source. A quick throw-in on the left-hand side saw the ball getting crossed into the area and Shevlin headed the ball into the bottom corner.

As the Bannsiders went forward, they were leaving gaps at the back and Cliftonville almost used that to their advantage five minutes later as Ronan Hale slipped through Gormley but his daisy cutter was held by Deane.

After the last four clashes ended 2-2 between the two sides, Coleraine would have two good efforts to repeat that scoreline as Shevlin headed straight at Gartside from Glackin’s free-kick, before the striker rounded the Reds stopper but couldn’t convert from a tight angle.

No European football for Coleraine who will now have to rest up and prepare for the 2023/24 campaign.

CLIFTONVILLE: Gartside, Ives, Addis, Gallagher, C. Curran, R. Curran (Moore ’72 mins), Lowe, Doherty (Coates ’84 mins), Gormley (Rocks ’78 mins), Turner, Ronan Hale.

Subs Not Used: Doherty (GK), Parkhouse, McDonagh, Traynor.

COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, D. Jarvis, Lowry (O’Mahony ’69 mins), Carson, O’Donnell, Lynch (McCrudden ’46 mins), Glackin, McDermott, Shevlin, Scott (Fyfe ’88 mins)

Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), McKendry, Farren, Devine.

Referee: Shane Andrews