Coleraine and Ballymena United share the spoils at Showgrounds

Coleraine's Stephen O'Donnell celebrates scoring their second goal
Coleraine's Stephen O'Donnell celebrates scoring their second goal

Coleraine produced a gritty display to deny rivals Ballymena United their first derby win in two years.

The Bannsiders twice pegged back David Jeffrey’s side in an enthralling encounter at The Showgrounds.

Tony Kane gave them an early lead before Darren McCauley levelled things up with an equally spectacular effort.

Andy McGrory restored their advantage in the first half before Johnny McMurray missed an open goal to kill the game.

That proved costly as Coleraine kept going and pulled themselves level with 11 minutes to go as Stephen O’Donnell headed home for an ulikely share of the spoils.

The Bannsiders task was made even tougher as they had to play for 75 minutes with only ten men after Eoin Bradley was sent off for lashing out.

Rodney McAree’s men showed great reslience though to keep themselves in the game

Ballymena started strongly with Ryan Mayse getting a shot off on target inside the opening 15 seconds.

They almost edged in front in bizarre circumstances a minute later as Steven Douglas’s attempted clearance cannoned off Mayse and nearly ended up in the back of the net.

Coleraine responded with skipper Stephen O’Donnell fizzing a half volley wide of the target after he won the ball 30 yards out from the visitors’ goal.

The deadlock was broken on seven minutes and what a goal it was.

Andy McGrory and Leroy Ervin combined to tee up Tony Kane, who unleashed a spectacular shot into the top corner from fully 25 yards.

The Bannsiders suffered a further blow on 16 minutes as Eoin Bradley was shown a straight red card following an altercation with Jim Ervin.

Remarkably it was the Bannsiders who netted the next goal, and what a strike it was too.

Jamie McGonigle switched the play out to Darren McCauley on the right, he cut inside before lashing a shot into the far top corner.

Aaron Burns went close to firing the hosts in front seven minutes later, but his volley ended up on the wrong side of the post.

More slack defending almost cost the Bannsiders again just past the hour mark. Darren McCauley hooked Leroy Millar’s corner back towards his own goal forcing Johns to punch clear from under his bar.

The visitors were looking for a penalty on 64 minutes as Adam Lecky went down in the box following a challenge from Canning.

Referee Ian McNabb though was unmoved.

The home side nearly drew level with 16 minutes to go as McGonigle cut in from the right, with his dipping shot from the edge of the box clipped the top of the bar.

Five minutes later they were level as O’Donnell rose unchallenged to head home McCauley’s inswinging corner.

Both sides pushed on for a winner in the closing stages, but neither could create a real goal scoring opportunity.