SHEVLIN AT THE DOUBLE AS BANNSIDERS CLAIM BRAGGING RIGHTS
Coleraine came from a goal down to kick the season off with a derby defeat of Ballymena United on the Ballycastle Road.
Getting off to a typically feisty start given the nature of the rivalry between the two sides, it fell to the visitors to seize the early advantage when - after 12 minutes - United skipper Colin Coates bagged the opening goal of the campaign after rising highest to nod home a Steven McCullough free-kick.
But the Bannsiders responded positively and duly levelled midway through the first half courtesy of a strong Matthew Shevlin strike after he had been teed up by Conor McKendry.
That set the tone for the rest of the half, with McCullough coming closest for the Sky Blues only to be denied a great Gareth Deane stop while Lee Lynch's looping free-kick at the other end wasn't able to be converted.
Coleraine came out after the break looking the more threatening and got their reward with Shevlin's second of the evening just after the hour when McKendry again delivered the decisive ball for last season's leading scorer to tap home.
Oran Kearney's side almost put the game to bed not long after that when McKendry and Lynch combined to provide Jamie Glackin with an opportunity on the edge of the box only to rattle an upright with his subsequent shot.
As the game progressed the Bannsiders continued to look the more likely to add to their tally with Shevlin coming close to his hat-trick only to fail to steer an Andy Scott cross on target while McKendry had a go with a strike just inches over the crossbar.
United almost salvaged a point right at the end only for Ryan Waide to send an effort directly at Deane from around 20 yards but, in the end, Coleraine had done enough to secure the victory.
Coleraine: Deane, Jarvis, Kelly, McKendry, Lowry, Shevlin, McDaid, O'Donnell, Lynch, Glackin, Scott subs Gallagher, Kane, Farren, Cole, O'Mahony, Mitchell, Doherty
Ballymena United: O'Neill, Whiteside, Coates, Gawne, Graham, Waide, McCullough, McGuigan, McGrory, McMurray, Place subs Johnston, Nelson, O'Boyle, Gibson, Walsh, Murray, Tennant