Battling Bannsiders hold league leaders

Howard Beverland leads by example at Coleraine Showground''Ruairi Harkin holds off Niall Quinn
Howard Beverland leads by example at Coleraine Showground''Ruairi Harkin holds off Niall Quinn

Coleraine produced a battling display to hold title-chasing Linfield to a goalless draw at The Showgrounds on Saturday.

In fact the Bannsiders were unlucky not to take all three points as the game opened up in the latter stages.

Philip Lowry should have broken the deadlock with 10 minutes gone. Jamie Mulgrew found space on the right before whipping a great ball into the box, but the onrushing Lowry powered his header over the bar from six yards.

Both sides were struggling to create any real clear cut chances. In fact it took until the 26th minute before the Bannsiders called Jonathan Tuffey into action. Ruairi Harkin’s corner from the right was headed goalwards by Gareth Tommons, but the Blues stopper saved easily.

The visitors carved out a similar opportunity eight minutes later as Niall Quinn picked out Mark Haughey, but again it was straight at the keeper.

Linfield should have edged in front seconds later as a quick free kick by Burns sent Lowry free, but he could only find the side netting.

The Blues did manage to get the ball in the net on 42 minutes as Michael Carvill swept the ball home from close range, but his joy was short lived as the assistant referee had his flag up for offside.

Coleraine carved out the final chance of the first half as Harkin tested Tuffey from distance, but again the keeper dealt with the effort well.

It was the visitors who created the first opening after the break as Quinn picked out Carvill from a set piece on 55 minutes, but the wide man’s flicked header was straight at Ferry.

Coleraine spurned a glorious opportunity three minutes later as Tommons latched on to the ball after a slip by Sean Ward, but his shot was blocked by the legs of Tuffey.

Andy Waterworth went close on 65 minutes as he raced clear and rounded Ferry but he couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot and Adam Mullan cleared in front of goal.

Linfield had Aaron Burns to thank for keeping the score at 0-0 with 11 minutes to go as Eoin Bradley’s goal bound header from Harkin’s corner was headed off the line and on to the bar to safety by the midfielder.

The game was finally springing into life with chances coming at either end. Unfortunately for Linfield Mark Haughey wasted a fantastic chance on 84 minutes as Mulgrew picked him out at the back post, but his downward header was easily saved by Ferry.

Right on 90 minutes Waterworth weaved through the home defence but he could only find the side netting. At the other end Tuffey was out quickly to deny Tommons.

And right at the death Eugene Ferry produced a fantastic one handed save to push away Lowry’s close range header.

Coleraine: Ferry, Mullan, McIlmoyle, Beverland, Douglas, Harkin, Lowry, Hegarty, Tommons, McNeill (Bradley 71), McDaid.

Subs: Shannon, Ogilby, Owens, Jennings.

Booking: McIlmoyle, Hegarty.

Linfield: Tuffey, BJ Burns, Quinn (Clarke 89), Haughey, Ward, Carvill (A Burns 67), Mulgrew, Lowry, Gault, Waterworth, McAllister (Thompson 79).

Subs: McVey, Garrett.

Booking: Haughey.

Referee: Colin Burns.