Denied at the death: Last gasp penalty robs Coleraine of win in Serbia

Coleraine Darren McCauley
Coleraine Darren McCauley
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Spartak Subotic 1 Coleraine 1

A first-half strike from Darren McCauley earned Coleraine a draw in the Europa League in Serbia.

It was almost the perfect night but the Bannsiders conceded a late penalty which was converted by Mile Savkovic.

Things didn’t go according to plan before a ball was kicked as midfielder Josh Carson was unable to play due to a registration error.

It would be the home side who made all the early running in Novi Sad and they threatened after ten minutes when a clever flick inside the box was met by Mile Savkovic but his effort didn’t trouble Chris Johns.

A minute later, it would be the same player who should have broken the deadlock as a fantastic cross by Stefan Milosevic met the midfielder but his header went inches by the far post.

However it would the Bannsiders who would take the lead on 23 minutes as a long throw in caused confusion in the Spartak defence and Darren McCauley remained calm to slow the ball into the net.

This would spur the home side into action but they failed to test the Coleraine rearguard until the 41st minute as Andrija Vukcevic was found inside the box but he failed to hit the target.

The dangerous Vukcevic would create another opportunity before the break as his superb cross was inches away from finding the unmarked Samuel Afum.

On the hour mark, Coleraine would have goalkeeper Chris Johns to thank as Noburu Shimuru picked out Mile Savkovic and his effort was acrobatically saved by the Bannsiders number one.

Due to sustained pressure, the Irish Cup holders would have to threaten on the counter attack and it nearly paid off on 72 minutes as a ball found the run of substitute Jamie McGonigle. The striker held off his marker and his low shot forced Nikola Peric into a smart save.

Spartak would have shots from distance but none failed to trouble Johns as Coleraine looked certain to register a famous win.

That was until Ian Parkhill was adjudged to have fouled inside the area and Savkovic made no mistake.

SPARTAK: Peric, Shimura, Kerkez, Djenic (Afum ‘36), Milosevic (Torbica ‘75), Glavcic, Vukcevic, Savkovic, Cecaric (Duricin ‘46), Marcic, Calasan.

Subs Not Used: Lucic (GK), Jocic, Tekijaski, Dunderski.

COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Lyons (Kirk ‘90), McCauley (Harkin ‘81), Lowry, Bradley, McConaghie, Burns, O’Donnell, Parkhill, Traynor.

Subs not Used: Doherty (GK), McLaughlin.