Davy McDaid was the hero as he struck twice to seal a 3-2 win over Dundalk on Monday night.
The Bannsiders went into the game missing two of their regular back four as both captain Howard Beverland and left back Ryan McIlmoyle did not make the trip south.
Aaron Canning slotted into the centre of defence in place of Beverland with Joe McNeill taking up the full back berth.
It was the visitors who carved out the first opening of the game with four minutes gone as Mark Rossiter’s clever through ball fed David McMillan, he hooked the ball past Eugene Ferry, but Aaron Canning was covering to clear the danger as Patrick Hoban looked to tap the ball home.
Canning nearly turned villain two minutes later as he lost possession to Daryl Horgan who drew a good save out of Ferry.
Horgan’s pace was causing Coleraine problems and with 18 minutes on the clock he ghosted in behind the defence on to a clever back heel by Stephen O’Donnell before coolly slotting past Ferry.
Coleraine were struggling to get a foothold in the game with the front three of Dundalk looking lively every time they got the ball.
However, with 34 minutes on the clock Coleraine levelled things up - and how. Davy McDaid picked the ball up 25 yards from goal, surrounded by Dundalk defenders it looked as if there was nothing on, but the former Derry City man crashed home a spectacular equaliser in off the underside of the bar.
The goal not only drew the Bannsiders level but also gave them a boost and they began to settle into their game and get on the ball more.
Just before the break Ruairi Harkin decided to try his luck from distance, but his shot never troubled Peter Cherrie in the home goal.
McDaid’s tireless running was causing the home defence some problems and four minutes into the second half he put the Bannsiders in front. John Watt hared down the right-hand side before picking out the unmarked McDaid at the back post to make it 2-1.
Oran Kearney’s men were dominating proceedings now and looked dangerous every time they went forward.
And just before the hour mark they made it 3-1 with that man McDaid at the heart of it again. His clever turn set him free on goal, but the home defence got back to block, but he was able to feed Ruairi Harkin who produced a clever finish from a really tight angle.
Within two minutes though the hosts had halved the deficit as David McMillan headed in from a corner on the right.
Coleraine had a big appeal for a penalty turned down on 63 minutes as Stevie Lowry sent McDaid clean through on goal, he seemed to get to the ball before the home keeper as the striker went down, but referee Paul McLaughlin only gave a corner.
The home side thought they had drawn level with just over 20 minutes to go as Patrick Hoban beat Ferry with a header, but Canning somehow hooked the ball off the line.
Coleraine withstood a late Dundalk barrage to take a valuable lead into the second leg.
Dundalk: Cherrie, Rossiter, Massey, Boyle, Kelly (Mountney 86), Higgins (Meenan 79), O’Donnell, Towell, Horgan (Byrne 67), Hoban, McMillan.
Subs: Shields, Griffin, O’Connor, Sava.
Coleraine: Ferry, Watt, McNeill, Canning, Douglas, Harkin, Hegarty, Lowry, Owens (Bradley 88), McDaid, Browne (Tommons 62).
Subs: Jennings, Lindsay, Mullan, Surgeoner, Shannon.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.