COLERAINE gained revenge for last weeks home defeat with an epic 4-2 victory over Linfield at Windsor Park last night. Despite having to soak up almost constant pressure from the home side,Coleraine were devastatingly effective on the break and this deserved three points took them up to fifth in the table.
However the early signs didn’t look good as Linfield started as they had finished last Tuesday’s game, in complete control. O’Hare made a solid stop from a Garrett free kick before Allen missed the target from only a couple of yards out as David Jeffrey’s side applied all the pressure.
Sammy Morrow had been handed his debut by David Platt, but had little opportunity to impress until one moment where he held off his marker and played in Stephen Lowry with a neat backheel and he in turn fed Stephen Dooley, whose shot was deflected behind off a defender.
There was something of a let-off for Coleraine just after the half hour mark as O’Hare misjudged a cross into the box and was caught in no mans land as Thompson’s header looped over him, but fortunately landed on top of the net. Coleraine’s chances looked to have taken a blow when Morrow was forced off after 35 minutes, seemingly suffering from a rib injury. He had shown enough to suggest his partnership with Patterson will be a fruitful one, although the man who replaced him, Gibson would have his own part to play in the evening’s drama.
O’Hare then did well to save an effort from Mulgrew and Coleraine broke to strike the first blow. Dooley had been having afield day up against Blues debutant Chris Casement, playing out of position at left back and looking horribly out of his depth, but on this occasion, the teenage winger came inside, before spreading the ball out wide to Patterson, who cleverly drew out Blayney and took the ball round him before slotting in from a tight angle.
Barely two minutes later Coleraine struck again as Carson hit a low cross into the six yard box, which Blayney could only palm away and following a brief goalmouth scramble Gibson was on hand to tuck the ball home for his first goal of the season.
A minute after the restart, the Coleraine fans in the North Stand were in dreamland as Patterson added a third. There seemed little danger as Douglas intercepted Beverland’s ball forward, but Patterson closed him down quickly and robbed him before rifling the ball past Blayney.
But Linfield were handed a way back into the match barely a minute later as half time sub McAllister crumbled under Watt’s challenge and ref Raymond Crangle awarded a penalty. Davy O’Hare famously saved a penalty in front of the Kop last season to help Coleraine to victory, but on this occasion, Linfield’s Jim Ervin got the better of him and it was game on again.
Linfield kept pressing, but were mainly kept at arms length by the Coleraine defence, with McVey and Mukendi particularly excelling. The latter, in contrast to his shakey performance the week before, was like a colossus, winning practically every header as Linfield’s aerial bombardment of the Coleraine penalty box continued.
When O’Hare was called upon, he had a few nervy moments, adjusting himself at the last moment to tip Ervin’s tricky cross over the bar, before spilling another cross in from the right, but fortunately Beverland was in the right position at the right time to hook it clear to safety.
Coleraine were not able to exploit the spaces left in Linfield’s defence as readily as they had in the first half, but still managed to create openings, with Gibson’s excellent through ball to Carson leading to the international winger getting the chance to shoot, but his curling shot just missed the target. Dooley then took on Casement again before cutting inside and shooting wide with his left foot.
O’Hare then pulled out a superb diving save to keep out Allen’s header, while Thompson, finally escaping the attentions of Mukendi, wasted a golden opportunity to reduce the gap as he hit the side-netting from close range.
Ten minutes from the end, Coleraine looked to have put the result beyond doubt as Patterson carried the ball along the by-line and cut the ball back to Gibson, who rolled it into the net. But just as it looked like Coleraine’s fans could relax, Linfield pulled another one back, with McAllister’s excellent strike flying past O’Hare to give them some hope.
O’Hare made another excellent save to deny McAllister before Gault and Thompson missed the target in injury time as Coleraine held firm to record another famous victory.
Team: O’Hare, Beverland, McVey, Patterson, McCallion, Carson, Morrow (Gibson 35), Watt (Canning 70), Mukendi, Dooley, Lowry (McLaughlin 89)
Unused Subs: Tolan, Tommons
colerainefc.com Man of the Match - Stephen Dooley