Coleraine: Irish Cup holders battle back to seal eight-goal thriller over Larne
Irish Cup holders Coleraine produced a stunning comeback to keep their dreams alive of retaining the trophy.
The Bannsiders fought back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Bluefin Sport Championship leaders Larne 5-3 at Inver Park.
The hosts looked to be home and hosed after a superb first half thanks to Davy McDaid’s brace.
But a double from Eoin Bradley brought the visitors back on terms.
With minutes to go McDaid completed his hat-trick and looked to have won it for his side.
But three minutes into stoppage time Jamie McGonigle equalised again.
In extra-time a Ben Tilney own goal and another excellent strike from McGonigle secured Coleraine’s place in the last four during the thriller.
McDaid made no mistake to break the deadlock as he found space in behind Gareth McConaghie from Lee Lynch’s cross.
His initial header was parried by Chris Johns, but the striker was first to react to poke home the loose ball.
McDaid almost doubled his and Larne’s tally a minute later as he got on the end of Tomas Cosgrove’s cross, but Johns redeemed himself with a superb save to deny him from close range.
Three minutes later, Tilney found space on the left and drove a low cross into the box which McDaid converted from close range.
Johns was called into action again on 51 minutes - beating away Martin Donnelly’s free-kick as Larne increased the pressure during an impressive start in front of the capacity crowd.
Bradley gave the cup holders a lifeline with an hour on the clock as he slammed the ball home from close range after a bit of pinball in the Larne box.
McDaid served the Bannsiders warning on 66 minutes as Donnelly sent him racing clear and he forced Johns into another save.
At the other end, Conor Devlin did enough to divert McGonigle’s shot away on 68 minutes.
And the striker went close again two minutes later with a glancing header.
With eight minutes to go the tie was turned on its head as Coleraine levelled things up. Bradley showed great composure to fire past Devlin from the penalty spot after Stevie Lowry had been brought down.
But within three minutes Larne had retaken the lead, and it was that man McDaid again.
Jeff Hughes picked him out in the box and he coolly slotted past Johns.
Incredibly, the Bannsiders dragged themselves up again three minutes into additional time. Again the ball was bobbing around the penalty box and McGonigle slotted a superb finish into the corner from 15 yards.
Three minutes into extra-time Coleraine took the lead for the first time after more poor defending from the home side.
Again they failed to clear their lines and Josh Carson was ready to pounce but Tilney’s attempted block found the net.
Within seconds Darren Tear found himself in on goal but Johns produced a superb save to deny him.
Coleraine wrapped up the game on 115 minutes - a breakaway saw Bradley send McGonigle clear, he got to the byline and cut back inside before unleashing an unstoppable drive - capping a tie to remember in memorable style.