Honours even in Boxing Day derby

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Honours even in Boxing Day derby thumbnailColeraine and Ballymena Utd fought out a 1-1 draw at the Showgrounds on Boxing Day, a result which sees the Bannsiders’ lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership cut to four points. Wk52034

COLERAINE'S lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership was cut to four points on Boxing Day as derby rivals Ballymena United fought back to earn a point in an absorbing 1-1 draw at the Coleraine Showgrounds.
Closest rivals Crusaders earned maximum points as two Gavin Whyte goals earned them a victory over Cliftonville in the north Belfast derby whilst Glenavon moved into third following victory over Warrenpoint Town.
Linfield's defence of the Gibson Cup, meanwhile, was dealt a huge blow as 'big two' rivals Glentoran scored late on to secure a dramatic 2-1 win at the Oval.
Back at a packed Showgrounds - the start of the game was delayed because of crowd congestion - the home side found the going tough against a determined Ballymena Utd team for whom Kyle Owens was a dominant force both in defence and attack.
However, a rare lapse in concentration from the big defender just before half-time saw the Bannsiders grab an unlikely interval lead. Owens was caught flat-footed as Coleraine striker Jamie McGonigle raced on to an Ian Parkhill flick.
The Dungiven man still had plenty to do as he bore down on the Ballymena goal but the 21-year-old showed great composure to fire the ball low past the despairing dive of Ballymena Utd keeper Ross Glendinning and into the corner of the net.
It was the perfect time to score, particularly as Coleraine hadn't been at their free-flowing best in the preceding 40 minutes, and was a real hammer blow to the visitors.
But they responded in the best possible fashion, equalising a quarter of an hour into the second through that man Owens. He rose highest to head on a Conor McCloskey long throw-in and Coleraine defender Aaron Traynor could do little but deflect the ball past his 'keeper Chris Johns.
*Read the full story in this week's Chronicle


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