Coleraine produced a superb performance to beat champions Cliftonville at The Showgrounds on Saturday.
Goals in either half from Shane McGinty and skipper Howard Beverland gave the Bannsiders a deserved win.
Oran Kearney’s men were excellent throughout, with Darren McCauley in particular proving to be a thorn in the Reds’ side all day. When Tommy Breslin’s side did threaten they found Michael Doherty in inspired form, as he produced a number of spectacular saves on the day.
McCauley should have fired his side in front on nine minutes as Neil McCafferty’s corner found him unmarked at the back post, but the midfielder blazed his shot over the bar.
They were almost made to pay for that three minutes later as Martin Donnelly’s inswinging free kick was directed goalwards by Jamie McGovern, but Doherty produced an excellent reaction save to palm it away.
McCauley should have put his side in front on 21 minutes as Neil McCafferty’s free kick found him but he somehow headed wide of the target.
The frontman drew a good save out of Conor Devlin four minutes later after Ian Parkhill’s lay off.
McCauley was at the heart of everything good for the Bannsiders and he found the side netting after a good lay off by Shane McGinty on 38 minutes.
The break through finally arrived on 43 minutes as McCauleys lay off teed up McGinty, who fired a shot in off the upright. Right on half time the Reds went close to equalising as Barry Johnston flashed a header just wide of the target.
Cliftonville raised their game at the start of the second half, and but for Michael Dohertythey would have been level before the hour mark. George McMullan pulled the ball back for McDaid on 47 minutes, but Doherty some how blocked his point blank effort.
Jamie McGovern had a header cleared off the line by Adam Mulan a minute later before Doherty produced another excellent stop to deny Gormley with 60 minutes gone.
It was Coleraine though who scored next as skipper Howard Beverland headed in from close range after Ogilby had flicked on McCafferty’s corner.
It came after a good period of pressure for Oran Kearney’s side as McCafferty struck the cross bar with an audacious effort on 66 minutes before Parkhill forced a great save out of Devlin for the corner which led to the second goal.
Cliftonville hit back again, but they couldn’t find a way past that man Doherty. This time he produced a superb low save to push away Barry Johnston’s thunderbolt.
McCauley should have made it 3-0 on 80 minutes after McGiny sent him racing clear, but he delayed his shot before eventually firing over the target.
Cliftonville kept pushing but they just couldn’t find a goal. The woodwork denied Jay Donnelly on 90 minutes as his header rattled the cross bar. From the resulting corner McGovern was denied yet again by another superb Doherty save.
Coleraine: Doherty, Mullan, Kane, Douglas, Ogilby, Beverland, McCafferty, McNeill (Miskimmin 86), McGinty, McCauley (Hegarty 81), Parkhill.
Subs: Browne, Canning, Watt.
Goals : McGinty (43), Beverland (67)
Cliftonville: Devlin, McMullan (Mulvenna 78), Seydak, McGovern, Flynn, Winchester, Johnston, Catney (J Donnelly 67), M Donnelly, Gormley, McDaid (Murray 78).
Subs: Scannell, Knowles.
Referee: I McNabb.