Coleraine pay penalty for missed chances
Thursday, 10 November 2016
ON another day, Coleraine players and supporters could have been celebrating a famous victory against their nemesis from the Shore Road. No wins in their last ten meetings and just three wins in 24 meetings since Oran Kearney succeeded David Platt to become manager in February 2011 - those statistics could have made for better reading with a little more luck and composure.
Alas, it wasn't to be on this occasion.
This was a game the visitors dominated for large spells and in which they created the greater number of openings.
They tested Crues' keeper Sean O'Neill early on with efforts from Rodney Brown and Jamie McGonigle but he was equal to the task - a recurring theme of the afternoon.
Several times he repelled Coleraine attacks as his team-mates in front of him failed to get to grip with the visitors' enthusiasm.
Stephen Baxter's men were strangely off the pace for much of the opening half but just as the clock edged towards 45 minutes they showed just why they are champions by scoring what proved to be only goal of the game.
Not for the first time and one suspects not for the last it was the Heatley-Owens combination which unlocked the opposition defence. The winger lobbed an inviting ball to the back post where the big striker got the run on the defenders to power home a header from three yards out.
It was a real sickener for Oran Kearney and his players who, unsurprisingly, struggled in the opening stages of the second period, coinciding with Crusaders' best spell of the game.
Michael Carvill and Jordan Owens both went close as Coleraine, for the first time, showed frailty. They recovered, however, to again take the fight to their opponents with Brad Lyons driving them on from midfield.
As time ebbed away, the Bannsiders upped the tempo, testing a Crusaders defence featuring former Coleraine captain Howard Beverland.
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