IRISH LEAGUE: Honours even between Coleraine and Ballymena United

Ryan Whiteside challenges Conor McCloskey. Presseye/ Lorcan Doherty
Ryan Whiteside challenges Conor McCloskey. Presseye/ Lorcan Doherty
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Coleraine 1 Ballymena United 1

It was honours even between Coleraine and Ballymena United at The Showgrounds.

Jamie McGonigle's early opener put the Bannsiders in front before young Kofi Balmer scored on his debut on 22 minutes to level things up.

The Sky Blues carved out the first opening with only ten minutes on the clock as Danny Wallace's long ball caught out the Coleraine defence, Jonny McMurray got his shot away first time, but it just cleared the crossbar.

From the resulting goal kick the static Ballymena defence were left behind by the fleet footed Jamie McGonigle, who coolly slotted past Ross Golendinning.

Fra McCaffrey tried his luck from distance on 14 minutes, which curled narrowly wide of the target, and four minutes later he dragged another effort wide of far post after McMurray had set him up with a clever back heel.

The visitors drew level on 22 minutes and it was from the unlikely source of Ballymena debutant Kofi Balmer. The 16-year-old reacted quickest to slam home from close range after Coleraine failed to deal with Leory Millar's corner.

A clever move from Eoin Bradley and Ian Parkhill saw the wide man race into the box, but his shot was well saved by Glendinning at his near post.

The keeper was called into action again on 51 minutes as substitute James McLaughlin hooked a pass over the Ballymena defence to release McGonigle, who stung the hands of Glendinning with a powerful effort.

The two tussled again two minutes later as a diagonal ball and a great touch teed up the striker, but again the keeper beat away his shot.

Conor McCloskey spurned a good opportunity for Ballymena with 20 minutes to go after Cathair Friel had picked him out from the left, but the wide man fired over in front of goal.

Chris Johns produced a great double save to deny Kevin Braniff on 76 minutes after he was introduced from the bench.

Two minutes later McLaughlin breezed past his markers before firing just past the far upright from the edge of the box.

Coleraine: Johns C Whiteside, Edgar, Douglas, Ogilby, Kennedy, R Whiteside, McCafferty, Parkhill, McGonigle (Allan 58), Bradley (McLaughlin 46).

Subs: Doherty, Ferris, McKendry.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, Gage, Jenkins, McCloskey, Friel, Wallace (Braniff 75), Ervin, Millar, McMurray, McCaffrey (Faulkner 69), Balmer (Kerr 67).

Subs: McKinney, Allen.

Referee: Raymond Crangle