Bannsiders let two-goal lead slip away in derby draw

David McDaid applies the clinical finish to put Coleraine ahead at Ballymena Showgrounds. Picture:  Derek Simpson
David McDaid applies the clinical finish to put Coleraine ahead at Ballymena Showgrounds. Picture: Derek Simpson

For the second time this season Coleraine had to settle for a point against derby rivals Ballymena United after letting a two-goal lead slip.

Two fantastic long-range strikes by Davy McDaid and Ruairi Harkin either side of the break put the Bannsiders in the ascendency at Warden Street. Michael McLellan reduced the deficit with half hour to go before Alan Teggart converted a late penalty to earn his side a draw.

In a scrappy opening Coleraine’s first chance came on 10 minutes as Davy McDaid’s corner was only half cleared but Stephen Douglas’ follow up volley was saved by United keeper Aaron Shanahan.

The hosts spurned a great opportunity to break the deadlock just before half time as Aaron Stewart sent David Cushley through on goal, but the winger dragged his shot wide of the target.

That miss proved costly as Coleraine went up the pitch and grabbed the opener just before the whistle. David McDaid looked up before unleashing a vicious dipping effort which beat Shanahan all ends up.

The Bannsiders started the second half well as they looked to extend their advantage.

On 51 minutes Gareth Tommons was only partially cleared by Jim Ervin, but Eoin Bradley stabbed his first time effort wide.

The second goal did arrive a minute later though as Ruairi Harkin dispossessed Gary Thompson before rifling a shot into the net from 25 yards.

Oran Kearney’s men almost wrapped up the game before the hour mark but Shanahan produced an excellent save to deny McDaid.

And that proved vital as the home side reduced the deficit on 61 minutes.

Cushley threaded a through ball for McLellan who rounded Ferry but the chance looked to have gone as the keeper got a touch on the ball to push it wide. However, McLellan kept going and steered home the loose ball from an acute angle through a ruck of Coleraine defenders on the goal-line.

With three minutes to go Ballymena were handed the chance to grab a share of the spoils as referee Mark Courtney, who dished out nine yellow cards in a game which had very few bad challenges, adjudged David Ogilby to have fouled Cushley.

Up stepped Teggart and he sent Ferry the wrong way to level the scores.

In the dying seconds Gary Browne was sent off for dissent for protesting he had been fouled by Allan Jenkins.

Ballymena United: Shanahan, Ervin, Munster (sub Teggart 63), Stewart, McCullagh, McBride (sub Kelly 82), Kane, Thompson (sub Davidson 77), Jenkins, Cushley, McLellan. Subs (not used): Taylor, Surgenor.

Coleraine: Ferry, Beverland, McIlmoyle, Douglas, Ogilby, Lowry, Harkin, Tommons (sub McNeill 81), Browne, Bradley, McDaid. Subs (not used): Owens, Watt, Jennings, Shannon.

Referee: Mark Courtney (Dungannon).