LOCAL lad Johnny Stewart was walking on air last night as he scored on his competitive debut for Coleraine to secure a hard fought 2-1 win over Loughgall in the League Cup.
The Bannsiders had to fight back from a goal down and the loss of Stephen Douglas, who was sent off in the 60th minute, to finally secure their place in the third round after extra time.
Twenty year old Stewart was the hero coming off the bench to glance home Stephen Lowry’s free kick five minutes in to extra time. The Portrush lad was on cloud nine after the game.
“I can’t believe it,” he told Times Sport. “To make my full debut is one thing but to score the winner is unbelievable.”
The visitors snatched a surprise lead with only six minutes gone as Jude Ballard played in Aaron Haire and he coolly slotted past Wayne Drummond. Coleraine almost reposnded within a minute as Aaron Canning fired a volley off the post after a good ball in by Paul Owens from the left.
Five minutes into the second half Coleraine drew level as Douglas bulletted home a header from Ruairi Harkin’s corner. But the defender’s night took a turn for the worst 10 minutes later as he was shown the red card by referee John Deighan after an innocuous altercation with Joe McKee.
Daniel Ryan spurned a great opportunity to put Loughgall back in front again with 14 minutes to go as he latched on to a weak pass by Lowry before racing clear, but he pulled his shot wide from the angle. Lowry went close at the other end with four minutes to go as he crashed a shot off the bar, the visitors just managed to scramble the rebound away.
In to extra time and Coleraine edged in front through substitute Stewart. The striker rose highest to head home Lowry’s free kick five minutes in to extra time.
Coleraine: Drummond, Canning, McIlmoyle, Douglas, Beverland, Lowry, Harkin (Ogilby 71), Owens (Hegarty 71), Tommons, Browne, Jennings (Stewart 67).
Subs: Watt, Bradley.
Loughgall: McKinstry, McGarry, Rodgers, Stewart, Finlay, Lavery (McVeigh 67), McKee (Herron 97), Ballard (Carson 78), Haire, Ryan, Brady.
Subs: Fox, Rooney.
Referee: John Deighan.
*You can read the full inetrview with Johnny Stewart in next week’s Coleraine Times