IRISH LEAGUE: Honours even in top of the table clash between Crusaders and Coleraine

Gavin Whyte tussles with Stephen O'Donnell.
Gavin Whyte tussles with Stephen O'Donnell.

Crusaders 1 Coleraine 1

It is as you were at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership as Crusaders and Coleraine played out a 1-1 draw.

After an edgy first half the game burst into life midway through the second half as Jamie McGonigle fired the Bannsiders in front from the spot.

But substitute David Cushley rescued a point for the hosts, and kept them two points clear of the Bannsiders, when he slotted home the Crues' 100th League goal of the season six minutes from time.

It was a cagey opening with both teams taking time to settle on the ball in front of a packed house at Seaview.

The first real opportunity fell for the visitors with 14 minutes on the clock.

The Bannsiders won the ball back in midfield, Josh Carson picked up the ball before lashing a shot over from 25 yards.

The Crues responded a minute later trying his luck from distance, but again he was well over the target.

Jamie McGonigle should have done better when he found space inside the penalty area on 20 minutes.

Instead of taking a shot he elected to try and find his strike partner Eoin Bradley, but Howard Beverland got in the way.

Bradley spurned a great chance to break the deadlock on 34 minutes after Chris Johns's long clearance sent him through on goal.

The striker delayed his shot though allowing Coates to get back in and make a great block tackle.

The visitors went close again on 42 minutes after Lyndon Kane had been upended outside the box by Paul Heatley.

Carson stepped up and curled the free kick inches past the far upright with Brian Jensen struggling.

Coleraine started the second half on the front foot and forced a save out of Jensen three minutes after the restart.

Darren McCauley fed the ball out to Carson on the right, his low shot was well dealt with by the former Burnley stopper at his near post.

The Crues responded on 50 minutes as Heatley teed up Owens on the edged of the area, but his powerful drive flew past the upright.

The hosts went even closer five minutes later as Coates got on the end of Heatley's corner, but Kane was alert to head the ball off the line.

They went close with another header on 57 minutes as Heatley flick on Snoddy's cross, Johns though gathered at the second attempt.

Another Snoddy centre on 66 found Coates at the back post, but he headed wide.

Within a minute Coleraine had broke up the pitch, Bradley surged into the box only to be brought down by Coates for a penalty.

Up stepped McGonigle and he kept his cool to send Jensen the wrong way to give the Bannsiders the lead.

The home side almost had an immediate response as Whyte weaved his magic on the right before drilling a low ball across the face of goal, which just evaded Lowry sliding in.

Johns had to be alert to deny Darren Murray three minutes after he entered the action as he found space in the box.

It was another substitute though who levelled things up six minutes from time.

Philip Lowry had a close range header blocked on the line, but Cushley slotted home just 60 seconds after coming on.

Murray found space again on 88 minutes before unleashing a long range effort, which Johns did well to tip over the bar.

Right at the death a weak back header by Kane put his keeper under pressure, Johns could only palm the ball away into the path of Heatley, whose first-time shot whistled past the far post.