Young guns seal win

COLERAINE FC Youths ensured that they would take a slender lead to North Macedonia as they recorded a 3-2 success against FK Pobeda…

In front of a healthy crowd at The Showgrounds, Coleraine threatened inside the opening two minutes as Jack Patton ran through on goal. After the striker rounded the ‘keeper, he couldn’t get a shot on goal with the rebound by Christopher Cullen hitting his own player.

However, Patton would atone for that miss just three minutes later as the Bannsiders took the lead. The marksman – who made his league debut for the senior team against Newry City – showed his predatory instinct to blast the ball into the bottom corner.

The North Macedonian side started to settle and threatened on 34 minutes as a cross by Boban Gjorcheski inadvertently turned into a shot that went inches over the bar. Moments later, a shot by Mihail Jakopetrevski was comfortably gathered by Billy McDowell.

That pressure would finally pay off as the visitors drew level on 42 minutes. A free-kick delivery by Filip Todoroski went into the back of the net amid a sea of bodies.

Just before the half-time whistle, FK Pobeda would take the lead with the impressive Todoroski involved yet again as a quick one-two allowed the attacking midfielder to go through on goal and he arrowed into the bottom corner.

Whatever Marty Smith said at half-time had the desired effect as Coleraine made it 2-2 on 52 minutes. A shot by Aaron Campbell deflected off Andrew Stinson and went into the net.

Seven minutes later, the turnaround was complete as an inviting delivery into the area by Michael Stewart was met by the brave Reece Watton who got to the ball before the ‘keeper to head home.

Both teams would make a raft of substitutions and the Stripes would go inches away from going 4-2 ahead as the ball was cut back to Stinson inside the box but he fired wide from a good position.

That miss would nearly be compounded in stoppage time as a corner kick by Pobeda found its way to Andrej Arizankoski inside the box but he couldn’t get a meaningful touch on the ball and McDowell saved.

A good win and comeback from Coleraine who travel to Skopje for the second leg next Wednesday.

COLERAINE: McDowell, Stewart, Watton, Campbell, Dealey, Stinson, Callaghan, Cullen (Smyth ’70 mins), Patton (Mackay ’82 mins), Moffatt, Doherty (Kelly ’86 mins).

Subs Not Used: Donnelly (GK), Curran, Dennison, Devine.

FK POBEDA: Marinovski, Gjorcheski (Nancheski ’56 mins), Kofilovski (Krsteski ’71 mins), Shikov, Kochoski, Tosheski, Debreslioski, Jakopetrevsk (Varosanoski ’85 mins), Todoroski, Antoski, Arizankoski.

Subs Not Used: Shemkovski (GK), Milanoski, Petejcuk.

Referee: Tom Owen (Wales)