Darren McCauley celebrates Coleraine's opening goal (©INPHO/Declan Roughan)
Saturday, 10 November 2018
Coleraine withstood late pressure to secure a crucial victory over Linfield in this visit to Windsor Park.
The Blues enjoyed a bright start to the game with Jimmy Callacher diverting an early header just wide while Jordan Stewart narrowly missed out on converting a Kirk Millar through ball.
At the other Aaron Burns missed from close range after meeting a Ciaron Harkin cross before Eoin Bradley fired into the side netting.
Coleraine moved in front on 21 minutes. Darren McCauley picked up the ball on the halfway line and proceeded to cut through the home defence before finishing with a low, driven effort from the left which Matthew Clarke turned into his own net.
And there was almost a repeat with ten minutes of the first half remaining but, on this occasion, McCauley was denied by an outstretched arm as Roy Carroll got down low to deal with the danger.
Carroll was called upon again eight minutes after the break to beat away a Bradley effort after he had been released by Stephen Lowry.
Joel Cooper might have levelled for Linfield only for his effort from inside the area to be blocked but, straight from the counter attack, the Bannsiders doubled their advantage which ended with Jamie McGonigle crossing from the right for the lurking Bradley only for Millar to knock into his own net after attempting to clear.
Linfield pulled a goal back in the closing minutes when Millar delivered a corner from the left with the ball evading everyone to end up in the back of the net although there were hints it skimmed off the back of a Coleraine defender.
The Blues almost earned a point just a minute later when Brandon Doyle arrowed a low strike at Chris Johns but the visiting keeper did well to respond with a great diving save.
Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Callacher, Waterworth, Cooper, Stewart, Millar, Clarke, Mulgrew, Quinn, Casement subs Deane (not used), Moller Nielsen (not used), Robinson (not used), Doyle (replaced Cooper 82), Fallon (replaced Clarke 71), Garrett (not used), Reynolds (replaced Stewart 82)
Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Douglas, McCauley, Lowry, E. Bradley, Carson, Burns, O'Donnell, Canning subs Doherty (not used), McConaghie (replaced McCauley 87), Parkhill (replaced Burns 84), McGonigle (replaced Carson 32), Whiteside (not used), J. Bradley (not used)
Referee: Ian McNabb