EUROPA LEAGUE: Coleraine frustrated by Spartak goalkeeper

Coleraine battle with Spartak Subotica at The Showgrounds in the Europa League. Pic by Pacemaker.
Coleraine battle with Spartak Subotica at The Showgrounds in the Europa League. Pic by Pacemaker.

Coleraine’s Europa League dreams were ended by an inspired showing by Spartak Subotica keeper Nikola Peric.

The Serbian side ran out 2-0 winners on the night, but had their keeper to thank as he denied the Bannsiders with several top-class saves.

A sloppy goal by Mile Savkovic and a late breakaway second from Bojan Cacaric wrapped up victory at The Showgrounds.

The Bannsiders started with the same 11 which took to the field in Serbia last Thursday.

But the noticeable change was in the dugout - with both manager Oran Kearney and his assistant William Murphy back again after missing the away leg.

The home side had a bit of a let-off inside four minutes as Noboru Shimura put Chris Johns under pressure as he came to claim a cross, the keeper spilled the ball but Gareth McConaghie was on hand to hook the loose ball clear.

The visitors were having more of the ball, but Coleraine, with Eoin Bradley leading the line, were looking dangerous on the break. The Subotica defenders looked unsettled by Bradley’s physicality.

The first real chance went the way of the visitors on 17 minutes as Ognjen Duricin showed some quick feet to get past Aaron Traynor, but his shot flew past the far upright.

Coleraine carved out two chances of their own in quick succession three minutes later after some good play on the wings.

Traynor curled a great ball into the box for Aaron Burns, who was denied by a great save from Peric.

Seconds later a cross from the other side from Ian Parkhill picked out the unmarked Darren McCauley at the back post, but he blazed over the bar from close range.

Those missed opportunities proved costly on 34 minutes as Savkovic headed the visitors in front.

Nemanja Calasan picked him out in the six-yard box from Nemnja Glavcic’s set-piece after Parkhill had given away the free-kick.

From the restart, Stevie Lowry picked out Traynor, and his spectacular first-time effort flew across the face of goal.

Coleraine made an excellent start to the second half, forcing Peric into action two minutes after the restart.

He got down well to palm away Burns’s effort after great work by Bradley.

Peric denied the Bannsiders again on 53 minutes after Traynor had picked out Parkhill in the box.

The home side introduced Jamie McGonigle from the bench and three minutes later he found himself through on goal, he was only denied by a finger-tip save from Peric.

Coleraine wasted another opportunity with 20 minutes to go as Stephen O’Donnell somehow failed to convert in front of goal after McGonigle’s flick from Ciaron Harkin’s corner.

The Bannsiders thought they had drawn level with eight minutes to go as Lowry fired home after McGonigle was again denied by a great Peric save - but Bradley was flagged offside in the build-up.

And right at the death, Peric again denied Lowry after Brad Lyons had taken a quick free-kick.

Right at the death Subotica broke clear through Savkovic, who picked out Cecaric to make it 2-0 on the night.

Coleraine: Johns, Mullan (McLaughlin, 85), Traynor, McConaghie, O’Donnell, Parkhill (Harkin, 60), McCauley, Lowry, Lyons, Burns (McGonigle, 59), Bradley.

Subs: Doherty, Kirk.

Spartak Subotica: Peric, Shimura (Torbica, 66), Jocic, Kerkez, Glavcic (Marcic, 75), Dunderski, Vukcevic, Savkovic, Duricin, Calasan, Afum (Cecaric, 83).

Subs: Lucic, Tekijaski, Djenic, Milosevic.

Referee: Farrugia Trustin (MLT)