Coleraine inflicted more ‘derby’ misery on rivals Ballymena as they moved into third place in the Danske Bank Premiership with an easy win at the Warden Street Showgrounds.
Ballymena almost made a flying start inside 13 seconds when James McCabe poked the ball into the path of Jamie Davidson who bore down on Michael Doherty’s goal from the left-hand channel but could only drive his shot past the far post.
Davidson was again involved on 22 minutes when he ran onto David Cushley’s through ball but from a similar position to the earlier chance, he blazed high and wide of the near post.
It took Coleraine half an hour to fashion an opening but gradually the Bannsiders began to gain the upper hand and they went in front five minutes before the break with a well-worked goal.
After some free flowing football with nearly every outfield player getting a touch of the ball David Scullion latched on to Curtis Allen’s lay off before steering a neat shot into the bottom corner.
Darren Boyce came close to doubling the advantage 60 seconds later when he curled a shot towards the top corner but Dwayne Nelson, at full stretch, tipped the ball over the bar.
The visitors did go 2-0 up 12 minutes after the restart when Ryan McIlmoyle’s corner was met by a header from the unmarked David Ogilby. Nelson did well to beat out the header from point-blank range but Allen was on hand to fire home the rebound.
As the visitors threatened to run riot, Nelson single-handedly stood between United and humiliation with brilliant saves from Allen and Ruairi Harkin.
Nelson was again the hero on 64 minutes when he saved a Curtis Allen penalty after Aaron Stewart was adjudged by referee Raymond Crangle to have brought down David Scullion.
The let-off didn’t signal any change in United’s fortunes; instead it was Coleraine who went close when Darren Boyce’s rising drive clipped the crossbar on its way over.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Rodgers, Munster, Stewart, Black, Taggart (sub Surgenor 67), Thompson, Jenkins, Cushley, McCabe (sub Costello 46), Davidson (sub Lowry 60). Subs (not used): Teggart, Duffin.
Coleraine: Doherty, Canning, Beverland, Ogilby, McIlmoyle, Hegarty, Scullion (sub Bradley 90+1), Lowry, Harkin (sub Owens 82), Allen (sub Jennings 85), Boyce. Subs (not used): Watt, Boyd.
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).