Ballymena United 0-2 Coleraine
By Paul Alexander
Coleraine maintained the four-point gap between themselves and league leaders Linfield with a derby day win against Ballymena United on Saturday afternoon at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
The away side were awarded a penalty as the tenth minute of the match approached after Scot Whiteside and Eoin Bradley became tangled on the left side of the 18-yard box.
Stephen Lowry sent Ross Glendinning to the left and produced a low finish into the centre of the goal. The midfielder’s opener was soon followed by a booking for Ballymena manager David Jeffrey.
Bradley thought he’d doubled his side’s lead on 34 minutes after a free-kick which he’d won. The striker fired the ball high into the net after a Lowry free-kick but was deemed to have been offside.
United’s Joe McCready looked dangerous at the other end two minutes later. At first, the forward poked Steven McCullough’s free-kick towards goal. Coleraine keeper Chris Johns palmed the ball out as far as McCready who then directed it over the crossbar.
The Braidmen threatened from a corner with 12 minutes of the second half played. Following Tony Kane’s delivery, Leroy Millar had a shot from about 10 yards blocked before the ball came to McCready who was also unsuccessful.
In the 59th minute United boss Jeffrey was shown a second yellow card, and dismissed by referee Steven Gregg, for his protests after Coleraine’s Stewart Nixon went down as he was pursued by Whiteside.
Left-back Aaron Traynor had a chance for the visitors on 62 minutes as he produced a low shot from distance which was helped around the right post by Ross Glendinning.
The Bannsiders had an even better opportunity nine minutes later. Nixon broke away on the right wing but, after McCullough sprinted back to nullify his support, the midfielder’s effort was saved by Glendinning.
In the following minute Aaron Canning gave Coleraine a second goal when he nodded in Josh Carson’s corner from the right. The hosts did have the ball in the net on 75 minutes after Tony Kane’s free-kick from the left was helped in although the goal was disallowed.
Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, McCullough, Addis, Whiteside, Reece Glendinning (Lecky, 69), Winchester, Millar, T. Kane, Kelly (K. Kane, 82), McCready (Knowles, 82), Friel
Subs not used: Williamson, Andrew Burns, Balmer, Owens
Coleraine: Johns, Traynor, Mullan, Canning, L. Kane, Nixon, Lowry, Jarvis (O’Donnell, 83 Carson, McLaughlin (Allen, 79), Bradley (Doherty, 67)
Subs not used: Gallagher, Douglas, McConaghie, Fitzpatrick
Referee: Steven Gregg (Ballyclare)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Stephen Lowry (Coleraine)