IRISH LEAGUE: Win over Ballinamallard puts Coleraine eight clear at top

Coleraine players congratulate Jamie McGonigle after scoring against Ballinamallard United
Coleraine players congratulate Jamie McGonigle after scoring against Ballinamallard United
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Coleraine moved eight points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership after a hard fought 2-1 win against Ballinamallard United at The Showgrounds on Tuesday night.

After a goalless first-half, the deadlock was broken when Colm McLoughlin fired a shot into his own net on 50 minutes, before Joe McCready finished four minutes later.

The Mallards got a goal back when Matthew Smyth headed home, but Coleraine held on to maintain their strong start to the season.

In a drab opening, it took until the 17th minute for the first shot on goal as former Coleraine midfielder Shane McGinty went on a long surging run, but he failed to keep his effort on target.

Jamie McGonigle – who scored in last weekend’s victory against Glentoran – was the next to threaten as he latched onto Darren McCauley’s cross, but the Northern Ireland under-21 international couldn’t find a way past Richard Brush.

On 23 minutes, Josh Carson came close to breaking the deadlock as he received the ball at the edge of the area with the midfielder’s effort forcing Brush into tipping the ball over the crossbar.

The Bannsiders thought they had taken the lead on the stroke of half-time as Ian Parkhill’s cross evaded a vital touch from Aaron Traynor.

However, Oran Kearney’s men were to find a way past Brush on 50 minutes as McGonigle’s teasing cross was turned into his own net by Mallards defender Colm McLoughlin.

The home side were to double their advantage as a wonderful pass by Carson found McCready who finished for his 4th goal of the season.

The game should have been wrapped up on the hour mark as Stephen O’Donnell failed to keep his header on target from McCauley’s corner-kick.

Gavin Dykes’ men grabbed a lifeline on 71 minutes when Richard Clarke’s free-kick was glanced home by Matthew Smyth.

Coleraine thought they had made the points safe when Carson’s goal bound effort was cleared off the line, before McCauley was also denied on the goal line by McLoughlin.

The visitors had one final chance to rescue a share of the spoils but striker Ryan Curran failed to keep his effort on target as Coleraine held firm.

COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Ogilby, McCauley, Carson, O’Donnell (McConaghie ’67), Parkhill (Whiteside ’77), Traynor, McGonigle, McCready (Smith ’81).

Subs Not Used: Douglas, Kee.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: Brush, McLoughlin, Taheny (McKenna ’67), Clarke, McGinty, Hutchinson (Burns ’32), Curran, McIlwaine, Armstrong (Martyn ’80), Owens, Smyth.

Subs Not Used: Brownlee (GK), McCann.