Causeway Chronicle

Vital point for ten-man Coleraine

Coleraine 1 Dungannon Swifts 1

Coleraine aren’t over the line officially but they virtually confirmed their Top Six slot at a blustery Ballycastle Road.

Victory today would have sealed the last lucrative European Play Off spot.

But the ten men – Stevie Lowry was dismissed in the first half – couldn’t get the victory they needed and must now await the outcome of the Carrick Rangers game with Linfield.

But with a favourable goal difference, this battling point has almost certainly secured sixth place.

Coleraine hold a three point advantage  and a superior goal difference.

Andy Mitchell, sold to the Swifts in January, headed the equaliser that still leaves it in the balance…on paper at least.

Coleraine had an early let off when Darren Cole got caught in possession but Andy Mitchell failed to take advantage on his return to the Showgrounds.

A Josh Carson shot well off target and an attempted overhead kick from Matthew Shevlin was all the home side could muster in the scrappy opening stages.

Coleraine found themselves reduced to ten men for the second week in succession just after the half hour mark. 

Referee Raymond Crangle showed Lowry a red card for allegedly stamping on James Knowles after 32 minutes.

Adam Glenny wasn’t far away with a dipping shot which arrowed past the far post two minutes before the break.

The Bannsiders made the all important breakthrough in first half injury time.

Declan Dunne did well to block man of the match Shevlin’s attempt from Jamie Glackin’s corner but the striker reacted quickly to rifle home the rebound.

Dungannon put the home side under pressure from the restart and Keelan Dillon sent a shot narrowly wide.

The hosts defended resolutely – with Stevie O’Donnell immense – and a devastating break presented them with a great opportunity to increase their lead after 67 minutes, when Jamie McGonigle was upended inside the box by Cahal McGinty.

But Carson – who scored from the spot at Seaview last week – was denied by Dunne who required treatment after taking the full force of the spot kick in the face.

And Coleraine paid the penalty with a quarter of an hour remaining as former striker Mitchell came back to haunt his old club.

Mitchell thumped a header from a great Glenny cross beyond Rory Brown.

But Coleraine held firm and for the second week in succession grabbed a valuable point with ten men.

Unless Carrick pull off the unthinkable against at the Blues, Coleraine can now look forward to home games with Crusaders, Cliftonville and Glentoran and trips to Linfield and Larne after the split.

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson