Jonathan McMurray celebrates United's late equaliser (©INPHO/Declan Roughan)
Wednesday, 26 December 2018
League leaders Ballymena United shared the goals and the points with derby rivals Coleraine in a gripping Showgrounds Boxing Day thriller.
The game got off to a bright start when Gareth McConaghie went within inches of opening the scoring for Coleraine only to head just wide from Josh Carson's corner.
That set the tone for the afternoon, with the Bannsiders moving in front on 11 minutes when Stephen Lowry beat the unsighted Thomas McDermott from the edge of the area into the bottom corner.
But, just three minutes later, the Sky Blues were back on level terms when Cathair Friel converted from the spot after Adam Mullan had brought down Adam Lecky.
Coleraine regained the advantage just before the half-hour mark following a Carson corner which James McLaughlin turned into the bottom corner with his right foot.
Rodney McAree's side were reduced to ten men four minutes into the second half after McLaughlin collected his second caution for a challenge on Jim Ervin.
Yet, despite this, Coleraine went on to knock home a third on 66 minutes courtesy of Ian Parkhill's drive from the edge of the box.
However, United pulled a goal back around sixty seconds later thanks to Andrew Burns finishing off Steven McCullough's corner.
Chasing a point, United peppered the Coleraine defence with Jonathan McMurray, Mayse and Friel all testing keeper Chris Johns.
The equaliser eventually did arrive just as the game was about to slip into added time when McMurray fired through a crowded box after a Jonny Addis throw-in was headed out.
Ballymena United: McDermott, Addis, McGinty, Friel, McCullough, Burns, Balmer, Winchester, Ervin, Lecky, Millar subs McCauley (not used), Quigley (not used), Whiteside (replaced Burns 83), Mayse (replaced McGinty 70), Nolan (not used), Shevlin (not used), McMurray (replaced Balmer 60)
Coleraine: Johns, Kane, Mullan, Harkin, McCauley, Lowry, McLaughlin, Carson, McConaghie, Parkhill, Canning subs Doherty (not used), Douglas (replaced Mullan 46), Bradley (replaced Parkhill 79), Crown (not used), O’Donnell (not used), McGonigle (not used), Gawne (not used)
Referee: Arnold Hunter