David Cushley beats Gareth McConaghie to a header (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Friday, 15 February 2019
Crusaders swept to victory over Coleraine at Seaview to close the gap on second place.
Coleraine created the first effort of note as early as the third minute when Aaron Canning got his head to a corner only to turn the ball over from close range.
The Bannsiders continued to press with Jamie McGonigle racing clear to bear down on Sean O'Neill but the Crues keeper got a touch to send the ball looping wide.
James McLaughlin was next to come close for the visitors when he couldn't find the target from close range on 25 minutes while, not long after that, Gareth McConaghie saw a header cleared off the line by Rory Hale.
After a couple of half chances the Crues enjoyed their best opportunity thus far after the half-hour mark when David Cushley whistled a shot just wide of the goal, but at the other end Coleraine continued to threaten through a McGonigle pile driver which O'Neill did well to save.
However, the Crues went in at half-time in the lead when, in stoppage time and against the run of play, skipper Colin Coates fired past Chris Johns low inside the post.
It was 2-0 on 52 minutes when Cushley doubled the home lead with a cracking finish, a curling 25-yard drive into the top corner.
Then, just before the hour, Cushley added a third for the Crues with a more conventional close range header into the bottom corner from a Billy Joe Burns cross.
Coleraine pulled one back on 65 minutes through recent signing Dylan King who nodded home his first goal for the club from a well delivered McLaughlin cross.
And the Bannsiders reduced the deficit further on 79 minutes through a successfully converted McGonigle spot-kick awarded after Coates had brought down Eoin Bradley.
But the Crues made sure of the points with four minutes left courtesy of Ronan Hale who made the most of some poor Coleraine defending to make it 4-2.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Lowry, Ward, Cushley, Ruddy, Clarke, McGinley, Patterson, Rr. Hale subs G. Doherty (not used), McChrystal (not used), Caddell (not used), K. Owens (not used), Snoddy (replaced McGinley 81), Thompson (not used), Rn. Hale (replaced Patterson 71)
Coleraine: Johns, Lowry, McLaughlin, McConaghie, McGonigle, Canning, B. Doherty, Edgar, Glackin, Shiels, King subs M. Doherty (not used), E. Bradley (replaced McLaughlin 77), Burns (not used), O'Donnell (not used), Parkhill (not used), Burke (replaced Glackin 77), Davidson (replaced Shiels 67)
Referee: Lee Tavinder
|Billy Joe Burns|
|Colin Coates||45 +1|