Coleraine cut the gap as Matthew Shevlin and Aaron Jarvis grab goals
Coleraine cut the gap on Danske Bank Premiership leaders Linfield to two points after a convincing 2-0 win over Crusaders at The Showgrounds.
Goals in either half from Matthew Shevlin and Aaron Jarvis gave the Bannsiders a deserved win over a toothless Crues side who failed to register a shot on target over the 90 minutes.
Doubts were raised about the game going ahead after some heavy rain in Coleraine in the run-up to kick-off.
Referee Shane Andrews was concerned about the goalmouth areas but after some reparatory work by the ground staff he was happy to proceed.
The opening exchanges were fairly quiet, with the visitors sticking firmly to their 4-5-1 formation as the hosts probed to try and find an opening.
The Crues almost got in for the first opening of the game on 16 minutes as Jonny Tuffey’s long clearance was allowed to travel through the pitch to Jamie McGonigle, who looked to have the run on the home defenders, but Aaron Traynor recovered to make a great block from the striker’s shot.
Chances were proving hard to come by for either side though.
The Crues almost got in nine minutes before the break as Adam Lecky flicked the ball into the path of the onrushing Declan Caddell, but Aaron Canning managed to get across to get enough on his shot to make it an easy gather for Gareth Deane.
The deadlock was finally broken a minute before half-time and it was the hosts who edged in front.
The evergreen Stephen Lowry popped up on the right wing to deliver a superb cross for Shevlin to head home from the edge of the six-yard box.
The visitors needed to show more attacking intent in the second period and McGonigle showed what he is all about as he cut inside and let one fly from about 25 yards, but it sailed narrowly wide of the far upright.
At the other end Jarvis fizzed one over the bar from outside the box.
The midfielder made no mistake on 57 minutes as he latched on to a punch from Tuffey before firing a low shot back through a ruck of players and into the net.
Crusaders threw on Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley in a bid to get something out of the game as we moved into the final quarter.
But it was the Bannsiders who continued to threaten.
Substitute Eoin Bradley chested a long ball down for Ben Doherty, who fed Shevlin, but his first-time effort was blocked by Tuffey at his near post.
The keeper had to be at his best again with two minutes to go to get down and push away a powerful Lowry drive.
And right at the death Glackin combined with Doherty but he dragged his shot wide.
Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Traynor, Canning, O’Donnell, Doherty, Lowry, Jarvis, Carson (Shevlin, 29), Glackin, Allen (Bradley, 76).
Subs (not used): Gallagher, McLaughlin, Tweed, Parkhill, Beverland.
Crusaders: Tuffey, Hegarty, Wilson, Weir, Lowry, Kennedy (Clarke, 46), McGonigle, Caddell, Forsythe (Heatley, 63), Lecky (Owens, 63), Ruddy.
Subs (not used): O’Neill, Cushley, O’Rourke, Larmour.
Referee: Shane Andrews.
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