Bannsiders hit with smash and grab

Gary Browne hammers home the equaliser for Coleraine in the derby match against rivals Ballymena at the Showgrounds.''photo:Derek Simpson
Gary Browne hammers home the equaliser for Coleraine in the derby match against rivals Ballymena at the Showgrounds.''photo:Derek Simpson
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It was rightly dubbed as a smash and grab afterwards as Ballymena United claimed the spoils in the first derby clash of the season with rivals Coleraine.

The Bannsiders dominated large chunks of the game and created countless chances, four of which were cleared off the line by a resolute Sky Blue rearguard.

But Oran Kearney’s men only had one goal to show for their efforts.

That was in sharp contrast to Ballymena who weren’t at their best but came away with all three points thanks to goals from Gary Thompson and Michael Ruddy.

Gary Browne should have opened the score on 13 minutes as firstly he was denied by the legs of Dwayne Nelson before Aaron Stewart hooked his follow up off the line.

Shane McGinty also had a close range effort blocked, this time by Stephen McBride before Ruairi Harkin looped a header wide of the post when well placed.

The Bannsiders were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as the visitors grabbed the opener on 21 minutes. Michael Doherty had just produced an excellent save to deny a close range header from Darren Boyce, but from the resulting corner he flapped at a cross and Thompson slammed the ball in from close range.

It was that man Thompson who almost doubled his side’s advantage a minute before the break as he surged into the box, but an excellent covering tackle from Canning denied him.

From the corner Taylor got in front of his man and flashed a glancing header just past the post.

Into the second half and Nelson denied McCafferty with a great save on 50 minutes before Doherty produced an equally as impressive stop minutes later to keep out Tipton’s volley.

The Bannsiders drew level on 62 minutes as Browne fired in a low shot from Mullan’s pass.

The Bannsiders were well on top and they had yet another shot cleared off the line on 68 minutes. Gary Browne’s flick sent McCauley free and his shot beat Nelson but Taylor did well to clear it off the line.

But it was the visitors who scored again as substitute Michael Ruddy headed in Gawley’s corner with 13 minutes to go.

Coleraine pushed to get back on level terms in the closing stages, but they couldn’t find that crucial second goal.

Coleraine: Doherty, Canning, Mullan, Beverland, Douglas, McGinty, Harkin, McCafferty, McCauley, Parkhill (Miskimmin 61), Browne.

Subs: Hegarty, Ogilby, Watt, Kane.

Goal: Browne (62)

Bookings: Canning, Mullan, Harkin

Ballymena United: Nelson, McCullagh, Taylor, Stewart, McBride, Gawley, Taggart, Thompson, Teggart (Cushley 57), Boyce, Tipton (Ruddy 75).

Subs: Kane, Surgenor, McVey.

Goals: Thompson (21), Ruddy (77)

Booking: Taggart.

Referee: A Davey (Bangor).