DERBY DELIGHT FOR TITLE CHASING BANNSIDERS
A goal in each half ensured Coleraine claimed the bragging rights with an away win over struggling derby rivals Ballymena United.
In what was a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Irish Cup semi-final between the sides the Bannsiders moved in front after just ten minutes when Scot Whiteside conceded a penalty for a foul on Eoin Bradley with Stephen Lowry stepping up to convert from the spot.
James McLaughlin might have added a second midway through the first half but could only blast over after receiving the ball from Bradley while, soon after, Bradley himself squandered an opportunity despite being well placed.
Bradley did have the ball in the net just after the half-hour mark with a drive into the roof of the net from a Lowry free-kick but this was ruled out offside.
Ballymena had a chance to equalise when Steven McCullough's free-kick bounced in front of Chris Johns who could only parry the ball into the path of Joe McCready but his six-yard effort went over.
Coleraine came close to doubling their advantage in the second half when United keeper Ross Glendinning was forced to stretch to tip Aaron Traynor's effort around an upright.
However, on 72 minutes, it was 2-0 after Aaron Canning met Josh Carson's cross to send a looping header over Glendinning just moments after Stewart Nixon had gone one-on-one with the home custodian.
Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, T. Kane, Addis, Whiteside, Friel, McCullough, McCready, Winchester, Millar, Reece Glendinning, Kelly subs Williamson (not used), Knowles (replaced McCready 82), K. Kane (replaced Kelly 82), Andrew Burns (not used), Balmer (not used), Lecky (replaced Reece Glendinning 69), Owens (not used)
Coleraine: Johns, Kane, Mullan, Canning, Jarvis, Lowry, McLaughlin, Bradley, Carson, Traynor, Nixon subs Gallagher (not used), Douglas (not used), Doherty (replaced Bradley 67), McConaghie (not used), O'Donnell (replaced Jarvis 84), Fitzpatrick (not used), Allen (replaced McLaughlin 79)