Coleraine lift BetMcLean League Cup


Coleraine claimed the Northern Ireland BetMcLean League Cup on Saturday evening after a pulsating 2-1 victory over Crusaders at Windsor Park.

The first chance of the game went Coleraine’s way when Ian Parkhill whipped in a cross looking for James McLaughlin but he couldn’t get a connection to the ball and Sean O’Neill in the Crusaders goal gathered.

Stephen Baxter’s Crusaders side did hit the front on the 10th minute when former Coleraine star Jamie McGonigle took advantage of a poor clearance from Bannsiders keeper Chris Johns and thumped a strike into the net for his 21st of the season.

Johns then had another nervy moment six minutes later as he raced out to clear the loose ball before hitting it off the onrushing McGonigle the ball luckily for the keeper bounced of the shins of the striker before it bounced out for a throw in.

Oran Kearney was then dealt a blow as Aaron Traynor was forced off with what looked like a shoulder injury following a collision with the advertising boards he was replaced by Aaron Jarvis as Coleraine were forced to reshuffle.

Crusaders then had another fine chance when Jordan Owens picked out Paul Heatley at the back-post but he couldn’t get the ball under control and Stephen O’Donnell was on hand to clear away the danger.

In an end to end battle it was Coleraine next to attack as Joshua Carson linked up well with Lyndon Kane before Carson saw his low cross well dealt with by O’Neill in the Shore Road sides goal.

Johns then had to be alert to stop Crusaders doubling their advantage as the in-form McGonigle burst through before his effort was well kept out by the Coleraine keeper down low to his right.

However Coleraine were gifted a chance to equalise when Rodney Brown was judged to have brought down Jamie Glackin before the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

Stephen Lowry took full responsibility and drilled in from 12 yards to equalise sending O’Neill the wrong way in the process to equalise and send the Bannsiders support behind the goal into wild celebrations.

Coleraine started the second half on top and went 2-1 ahead on 53 minutes Glackin won a corner off Jarlath O’Rourke before he whipped it into the area ,O’Neill failed to hold onto the ball allowing James McLaughlin to fire into the empty net for his first goal since November.

Kearney’s side started to take control of the contest and they had another fine chance when Carson skipped away from Billy Joe Burns before lashing his effort over the top of the crossbar.

The Bannsiders then made their second change as Adam Mullan was replaced on 63 minutes by the returning Curtis Allen who signed for the club on transfer deadline day from Glentoran,returning for his second stint at the Showgrounds.

Stephen Baxter then also made an interesting switch as he took off key man Heatley and replaced him with Reece McGinley to attempt to try and find a way back into the game.

Allen was causing problems off the bench with his pace and on 69 minutes he sprinted up the left wing before crossing aiming for McLaughlin but Brown did well to clear the ball under pressure to keep his side alive in the tie.

O’Neill then made a superb stop Parkhill making it 3-1, Glackin played him in with a low pass before his shot was well tipped around the post by the reactions of the keeper as he dived cat-like to his left.

With ten minutes to go Crusaders then were denied an equaliser as Phillip Lowry met a cross from Dummigan and headed into the hands of Johns from point blank range.

In a frantic ending to the game Coleraine went straight on the counter attack and McLaughlin headed over a pinpoint cross from Carson from close range in a goal that would have sealed the tie.

O’Neill then had to be on hand to make a low save as Allen danced around O’Rourke before his low cross attempting to pick out substitute Matthew Fitzpatrick was well plucked out by the keeper.

Crusaders then had a huge chance in the 4 added minutes when David Cushley swung a cross in for McGonigle before his header was directed straight at Johns.

In the final chance of the game it was Crusaders again who carved it out when that man McGonigle was once again involved as he drilled a shot over at the back-post when he should have hit the target.

Subs used
Jarvis ,Allen,Fitzpatrick .


Subs used

Man of the Match Stephen Lowry.


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