Coleraine boss Oran Kearney was left to rue “indefensible” errors as the Bannsiders slipped to their second defeat in four days.
This time it was Linfield who inflicted the mortal blows with a hurtful 2-1 defeat at the Showgrounds.
Coleraine finished the game with ten men after midfielder Joe McNeill was dismissed for a head-butt incident with Aaron Burns.
The Bannside picked up just one point from their opening three league games and sit second from bottom in the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Commenting on the sending off and another defeat, Kearney said: ““What Joe did, even though there was minimal contact, rules are rules. Joe knows what he did, and he is devastated in there.
“It was a spur of the moment thing when you bounce up from a tackle and someone comes to you and you come to them. He just hasn’t thought for a split second and the powers at be have deemed it to be a red card.
“To be fair he is gutted in the changing room, but it will be a costly one for him.”
“I think individual errors let us down today. They were indefensible,” he said.
Linfield defender Matthew Clarke fired a brace to ensure that the Blues left Ballycastle Road with maximum.
The 20-year-old crashed home Kirk Millar’s back-heeled pass in the 54th minute, and nine minutes later he curled a perfect left-foot free-kick past Eugene Ferry and into the top corner.
Coleraine had responded on the hour mark with a fantastic freekick from midfielder Neil McCafferty.
Kearney questioned the free-kick awarded to the visitors which led to their winner.
He said: “‘I need to see Linfield’s free-kick again as I didn’t think it was the correct decision.
“However, we should have defended their attack better.
“It was a better response from the players and we had a better attitude out there today.
“We made schoolboy errors at left-back for their first goal and got punished, before the red card makes things even tougher for us.’
Blues hero Clarke said: “Hopefully we can kick-on this season and keep battling at the top end of the table. Everyone is hungry to succeed and the title is the one we want.”
For Kearney it’s imperative he strengthens his threadbare squad before the rot kicks in.
He is hoping to bolster his team this week with some new faces with the added that concern that injuries are mounting.
COLERAINE: Ferry, Canning, Beverland, Ogilby, Watt, McCafferty, Hegarty, McNeill, McGinty, Browne, Parkhill.
Subs not used: Findlay, Barton, Lyons, Moore, Mullan.
LINFIELD: Tuffey, Richards, Hegarty, Haughey, Lowry, Thompson, Sproule, Burns, M. Clarke, Feeney (Carvill 87), Mulgrew (Millar 13).
Subs not used: Glendinning, Quinn, R. Clarke.
Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)