A Stevie Lowry strike 10 minutes from time gave Coleraine their first win in six against Crusaders at The Showgrounds on Friday night.
The home side were on top from the very first minute and probably should have ran out more comfortable winners. But poor finishing and some good goalkeeping meant it was the closing stages before Oran Kearney’s men grabbed the three points they deserved.
Coleraine carved out the first opening with only two minutes gone as Davy McDaid teed up Eoin Bradley, but the striker’s weak shot never troubled Sean O’Neill in the Crues goal.
McDaid and Bradley combined to play in Ruairi Harkin four minutes later, but again O’Neill came out on top as he smothered the shot. And a minute later McDaid fired a volley just past the post after Owens had picked him out with a cross from the left.
The home side were well on top and O’Neill was called into action again on 23 minutes as Harkin tested him with a curling free kick.
The visitors suffered a blow on 29 minutes as Matthew Snoddy was stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury. The midfielder went down awkwardly with no-one around him and fears are he suffered an injury to his knee.
The Crues almost hit Coleraine with a sucker punch on 38 minutes as Paul Leeman picked out Declan Caddell at the back post, but Eugene Ferry got down well to push away his diving header.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot with Gareth Tommons flashing a shot just wide as the Crues failed to clear their lines on 51 minutes.
Eoin Bradley looked certain to break the deadlock seven minutes later as he exchanged passes with McDaid, but Hanley just nicked the ball off his toe.
The deadlock was finally broken with 10 minutes to go as substitute Shane Jennings and McDaid combined to tee up Stevie Lowry, who emphatically finished past O’Neill with the outside of the boot from eight yards.
David McAllister forced Ferry into a great save with five minutes to go as his looping effort almost caught the keeper out, but he reacted well to tip it over the bar.
Coleraine: Ferry, Canning, Watt, Beverland, Douglas, Owens, Lowry, Tommons, Harkin (Hegarty 86), Bradley (Jennings 78), McDaid.
Subs: Ogilby, Mullan, McDowell.
Crusaders: O’Neill, Leeman, King, Robinson, Hanley, Caddell, Snoddy (E McAllister 29) , Heatley, Clarke (Morrow 46), McCutcheon (D McAllister 77), Smith.
Subs: O’Hanlon, Dillon, D McAllister.
Referee: Arnold Hunter