SHOWGROUNDS DERBY ENDS IN STALEMATE
In the end Ballymena United and Coleraine shared the points from this first derby of the season on Warden Street.
Coleraine moved in front on 13 minutes when Eoin Bradley turned a throw-in from the left towards goal with the ball eventually falling for James McLaughlin who, unmarked, pounced at the back post.
However, McLaughlin's luck changed midway through the first half when, from an Aaron Jarvis lay-off, he turned to fire wide before, moments later, going off injured with a suspected hamstring injury after receiving the ball from Eoin Bradley.
And Coleraine suffered another blow on 37 minutes when skipper Stephen O'Donnell was dismissed for collecting his second caution of the game for a high boot.
The Sky Blues then levelled on the stroke of half-time through former Coleraine man Scot Whiteside who found the net with a header from Andy McGrory's delivery.
After the break Bradley might have restored Coleraine's lead only to fire straight at Ross Glendinning after finding himself through on goal while, at the other end, McGrory saw a free-kick tipped over by Chris Johns.
Johns was then called into action again to deny Ryan Mayse from close range before, a minute after that, Aaron Burns squandered a glorious close range chance.
Indeed, David Jeffrey's side will rue another missed opportunity right at the end after Aaron Canning let Cathair Friel in with a poor backpass but the United striker could only fire wide with the goal at his mercy.
The Bannsiders ended the game with nine men when, in stoppage time, Adam Mullan was shown a second yellow for bringing down Ross Lavery when clean through on goal.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Whiteside, Harpur, Friel, McCullough, Carville, McGrory, Balmer, Ervin, Millar, Aaron Burns subs Williamson (not used), Kane (not used), Mayse (replaced Balmer 46), McGinty (replaced Carville 62), Kelly (not used), Brown (not used), Lavery (replaced Burns 75)
Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Canning, Jarvis, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin, Bradley, McConaghie, O'Donnell, Parkhill subs Gallagher (not used), Douglas (not used), Carson (replaced Maciulaitis 65), Glackin (replaced Parkhill 80), Gawne (not used), McGuckin (not used), Maciulaitis (replaced McLaughlin 29)