STEPHEN Lowry struck two minutes into stoppage time to seal a fantastic win for Coleraine against Linfield in what turned out to be an absolute cracker.
The midfielder kept his composure to put the Bannsiders 3-2 right at the death after it had looked as though Ryan Henderson had rescued a much needed point for David Jeffrey’s men, who were 2-0 down after fifteen minutes
Linfield created the first opening with only two minutes on the clock. Mark McAllister sent Michael Carvill away down the left his cross picked out Winkie Murphy at the back post but the big defender couldn’t direct his shot on target.
Coleraine responded almost straight away as Ruairi Harkin’s in swinging free was just tipped over by Alan Blayney.
The Blues were getting some joy down the left. Damien Curran combined with Niall Quinn to tee up Peter Thompson but his header glanced wide.
Straight away Coleraine broke the deadlock as Curtis Allen sent Darren Boyce clear and he coolly slotted past the onrushing Blayney with 14 minutes on the clock.
Linfield responded as Carvill forced a parried save from Michael Doherty and the keeper was up quick to deny Thompson with the rebound.
From the resulting corner the Bannsiders broke clear with Harkin sending Allen through on goal and he dispatched a first time shot into the far corner.
The visitors got back into the game on 26 minutes after Kyle McVey upended Jamie Mulgrew on the edge of the box. And just as he did in the recent League Cup game Carvill stepped up and fired home.
Coleraine were a constant threat on the break though and they broke away again on the half hour mark as Lowry teed up Joel Bradley, but the teenagers shot was straight at Blayney.
Again Linfield responded as Curran’s free kick was headed on to his own bar by McVey before McIlmoyle hacked it away.
Linfield had a big shout for a penalty on 43 minutes as Mulgrew threaded a pass through for Thompson, Doherty came racing out and the striker went down under the challenge but the referee and his assistant on that side were unmoved.
Coleraine had another let off two minutes after the restart as Hegarty’s slack back pass played in McAllister but Doherty rescued his captain with a great block and Thompson blazed the rebound over.
The hosts were still posing a real threat on the break and just past the hour mark Allen broke free again from Boyce’s flick on, but Blayney did well to block.
It was real end-to-end stuff with Linfield going close at the other end on 67 minutes after Canning’s clearance went straight to Thompson, but Doherty produced a great save to deny him.
Substitutte Ryan Henderson spurned a great opportunity to tie the game on 83 minutes as Mulgrew picked him out at the back post but the former DC man headed over with what was his first touch.
But he made up for it six minutes later as he got on the end of another Quinn set piece to tap in from four yards and tie up the game.
But in keeping with the rest of the encounter Coleraine went straight up the pitch and grabbed what turned out to be the winner.
Aaron Canning’s great cross field ball picked out Stephen Lowry who brought the ball down before stroking it past Blayney.
Even right at the death both sides had further chances as Ciaran Clarke hit the bar before Phillip Lowry fired over right at the death.
Coleraine: Doherty, Canning, McIlmoyle, Beverland, McVey, Bradley (Clarke 77), Lowry, Harkin, Hegarty, Allen, Boyce.
Subs: Cullen, Gillan, Boyd, McMullan.
Linfield: Blayney, Ervin (Fordyce 75), Quinn, Murphy, Watson, Carvill, Garrett (Henderson 82), Mulgrew, Curran (Lowry 60), McAllister, Thompson.
Subs: McCaul, Black.
Referee: Raymond Crangle.