Crusaders defender Colin Coates admitted he experienced the worst ‘four minutes of his life’ in yesterday’s North Belfast derby thriller at Seaview.
The 28 year old centre-back shamefully blasted a penalty kick high into the grandstand early in the second half against Cliftonville before conceding a spot kick minutes later.
Liam Boyce was in an unforgiving mood as he blasted the title holders into the lead.
But just as the Reds were contemplating their first victory on the Shore Road since 2010, Coates popped up to salvage a draw and a point with the last kick of the game.
Unfortunately, there was no Festive joy for either side as Cliftonville now trail Premiership table toppers Linfield by six points, with the Crusader a further one adrift.
“It was the worst four minutes of my life,” said Coates. “I don’t know what came over me for our penalty.
“I just decided to hoof it and the ball was lucky to stay in the ground. Needless, to say I was thrilled to get the equaliser with the last kick of the game.
“I think over the course of the game we deserved it.
“Both sides created chances and a draw was a fair result.
“Unfortunately, both ourselves and Cliftonville slip further behind Linfield. But there is still a long way to go in this title race. I don’t think now is the time to panic.”
Reds manager Tommy Breslin admitted it was a ‘decent point’, but it felt like a defeat in the circumstances.
“Crusaders always go to the final whistle, but we should have been out of sight before that late goal,” he said.
“We could have been a big more ruthless in front of goal. We are now six behind the Blues, but we’ll not become too carried away.”
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter was thrilled with the late drama, stating: “I thought we were sensational. It was two gladiators going at it from start to finish.
“We shaded the first half in terms of possession. Then it was a tale of two penalties one missed and the other scored. We really went for it over the last 20 minutes or so, we are pleased to have salvaged a draw.
“It was no more than we deserved. There is one thing about this team, they keep going right to the finish. We threw everyone forward to try and get the equaliser.
“It was fitting that Colin got the goal. He was so disappointed with his penalty miss.
“He apologised to the lads after the game. But he turned in a sterling performance.
“It was a great battle between two committed and brilliant teams -- Cliftonville are champions and they showed what a great side they are.
“Some will say the result did either team any favours -- Linfield are now in the box seat, but there is a long long way to go in this title race.”