Darren McCauley in action with Kirk Millar (©INPHO/Matt Mackey)
Saturday, 21 April 2018
Two Darren McCauley goals in as many minutes kept Coleraine's title ambitions alive going into the final game of the season following this draw with outgoing champions Linfield at Windsor Park.
Linfield started brightly when, as early as the third minute, Achille Campion met a Ryan Strain cross from the left to turn a header onto the roof of the net.
Campion went one better on 14 minutes, opening the scoring with a header into the corner when Matthew Clarke found him unmarked with a cross towards the back post.
Coleraine 'keeper Chris Johns was then called into action twice in quick succession to deny Strain and then Kurtis Byrne with a fantastic double save.
The Bannsiders might have hit back just after the half-hour mark when Roy Carroll did well to deny Eoin Bradley's free-kick but, three minutes after, Linfield doubled their lead courtesy of a simple left-foot finish for Byrne from around 20 yards after a long ball out of defence fell for him.
Byrne almost settled the issue early in the second half only to find the side netting from a tight angle.
But Coleraine kept plugging away, coming close just before the hour when Stephen Dooley's header was tipped over Carroll while McCauley later burst into the area before cutting the ball back for Ciaron Harkin but his effort was blocked.
The Bannsiders were thrown a lifeline with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining when Carroll was adjudged to have brought down substitute Ian Parkhill, with McCauley showing great composure to step to send the vastly experienced 'keeper the wrong way.
Then, barely two minutes after that, it was all level when McCauley swept home his second of the afternoon from the edge of the area following a flowing move out of defence.
Linfield: R. Carroll, Stafford, Robinson, Haughey, Callacher, Millar, Byrne, M. Clarke, Garrett, Campion, Strain subs Crowe (not used), Casement (not used), Rooney (replaced Campion 74), Fallon (replaced Strain 74), A. Carroll (not used)
Coleraine: Johns, Kane, Harkin, McCauley, Smith, Bradley, McConaghie, O'Donnell, Traynor, McGonigle, Dooley subs Mullan (replaced Kane 62), Douglas (not used), Burns (replaced McGonigle 46), Lyons (not used), Parkhill (replaced Bradley 46)
Referee: Andrew Davey
|Adam Mullan||90 +1||62|