PREMIERSHIP: McCauley's brace keeps Coleraine in the title hunt

Linfield 2 Coleraine 2

Saturday, 21st April 2018, 6:12 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st April 2018, 6:16 pm
Eoin Bradley tussles with Jimmy Callacher
Eoin Bradley tussles with Jimmy Callacher

Coleraine fought back from two goals down to keep their Danske Bank Premeirship dreams alive.

A second half brace from Darren McCauley earn the Bannsiders a point which didn't look likely as the game entered the last 15 minutes.

The Blues had led 2-0 at the break after strikes from Achille Campion and Kurtis Byrne, and if truth be told were deserving of their lead.

But McCauley slotted in a penalty on 75 minutes before adding a second two minutes later to grab a point for Oran Kearney's men.

The Blues went close to breaking the deadlock inside three minutes as Achille Campion got on the end of Ryan Strain's inswinging cross, but his header was inches over the bar.

Jimmy Callacher went closer from another header on seven minutes, this time from a Kirk Millar corner, but it was straight at Chris Johns.

The keeper was left helpless on 14 minutes as the hosts took the lead.

This time a Matthew Clarke cross picked out Campion at the back post, the striker was in acres of space and planted a downward header past Johns.

The Coleraine stopper made a brilliant double save on 19 minutes. He parried Strain's initial shot, but reacted well to block a close range effort from Kurtis Byrne.

Coleraine finally had a shot on goal on 32 minutes as Eoin Bradley tried his luck from a free kick 25 yards out.

His low shot almost caught Roy Carroll out at the post.

Three minutes later the hosts doubled their advantage as the Bannsiders failed to deal with a long through ball.

Byrne latched on to the loose ball and fired a shot into the bottom corner.

The keeper had to be alert on 39 minutes to push away a long range effort from Robbie Garrett. Millar's dinked follow up sailed over the bar.

The Blues started the second half off in a similar vein. Campion's clever pass with the outside of his foot released Byrne, Johns raced out to close the angle, the front man tried to lob him but only found the side netting.

The Bannsiders almost pulled one back on 58 minutes as as Dooley's looped header almost caught out Carroll, but the big keeper tipped over the bar.

A sweeping break by the visitors on 71 minutes saw Dooley teed up Harkin on the edge of the box, but the midfielder couldn't control the ball and the chance escaped him.

Coleraine were handed a lifeline with 15 minutes to go as they were awarded a penalty.

Ian Parkhill raced on to Aaron Burns clever pass only to be upended by Carroll. Up stepped McCauley to coolly slot past the keeper.

And remarkably the big midfielder fired the Bannsiders level two minutes later as they caught Linfield on the break.

Dooley fed the ball in to McCauley in acres of space and he kept his cool to fire past Carroll again.

Linfield almost edged back in front two minutes in to stoppage time as Byrne's cross nicked off a Coleraine defender forcing Johns to tip over.

Linfield: R Carroll, Stafford, Robinson, Haughey, Callacher, Millar, Byrne, Clarke, Garrett, Campion (Rooney 74), Strain (Fallon 74)

Subs: Crowe, Casement, A Carroll.

Coleraine: Johns, Kane (Mullan 62) Harkin, McCauley, Smith, Bradley (Parkhill 46), McConaghie, O’Donnell, Traynor, McGonigle (Burns 46), Dooley

Subs: Douglas, Lyons.

Referee: Andrew Davey