IRISH LEAGUE: Coleraine back to winning ways after victory over Ballymena

Coleraine's Jamie McGonigle and team  mate Ruairi Harkin jump for joy
Coleraine's Jamie McGonigle and team mate Ruairi Harkin jump for joy

COLERAINE 2 BALLYMENA UNITED 1

Coleraine got back to winning ways as they saw off derby rivals Ballymena United at The Showgrounds.

A double from Jamie McGonigle gave the Bannsiders the festive bragging rights.

The teenager scored in either half with a spectacular effort from David Cushley drawing the Sky Blues level in between times.

The home side made a bright start in front of a packed house with Alan Blayney having to be alert to claim a dangerous cross with six minutes gone.

James McLaughlin went close with a header five minutes later from a Ruaidhri Higgins cross.

The midfielder helped set up Jamie McGonigle with a good chance on 16 minutes as he combined with McLaughlin to release Jamie McGonigle, but Blayney smothered his shot.

McGonigle made no mistake three minutes later after he beat the offside trap from Rodney Brown’s pass. The striker looked to have overran it though as he skipped past Blayney, but his shot just beat Rodger, who had ran back to cover the goal.

The visitors were almost back on level terms on the half hour as Jim Ervin’s low cross found Darren Henderson in the six yard box, but Michael Doherty reacted well to deflect his shot away with his legs.

Within a minute though the Sky Blues found an equaliser as David Cushley picked the ball up just outside the box before firing home a spectacular volley.

Coleraine started the second half in sparkling form as McGonigle forced Blayney into a great save two minutes after the restart.

McGonigle wasn’t to be denied though and he made it 2-1 on 61 minutes as he diverted Brown’s knock down into the net.

The teenager was on the hunt for his hat-trick and it took a couple of excellent saves by Blayney to keep him at bay.

Coleraine: Doherty, Beverland, Mullan, Higgins, Douglas, Harkin, Brown, McLaughlin, Lyons (Parkhill 57), Kane, McGonigle (McCauley 83).

Subs: McCafferty, Morrow, Watt.

Goals: McGonigle (19, 61)

Ballymena United: Blayney, Ervin, McNally (Nixon 58), Rodger, McBride, T Kane, Thompson (Taggart 70), E Kane, Cushley, Jenkins, Henderson (Shevlin 72).

Subs: Ferguson, Hanley.

Goal: Cushley (31).

Referee: Ross Dunlop.