Coates and Owens in double whammy as Crusaders beat Ballymena United
Crusaders 2 Ballymena United 1: Last-gasp goals from skipper Colin Coates and Jordan Owens last night saved Crusaders blushes at Seaview.
Staring down the barrel of yet another defeat, Stephen Baxter’s boys somehow pick-pocketed an unlikely three Carling Premier League points against a battling Ballymena United side.
The Sky Blues bravely defended Gary McCutcheon’s 38th minute strike until they lost their composure in the dying seconds.
Scenting blood, the Crues went for the jugular — Coates and Owens conjuring up a late show to send the home fans into raptures.
Crusaders certainly looked the part in the first half. Young Stuart Dallas in particular was right out of luck on two occasions, with goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson earning his wages.
On 20 minutes, Dallas also saw a thumping 40-yard drive crash back off a post. Michael Halliday picked up the rebound, but his shot also cannoned back off the woodwork.
United took full advantage and McCutcheon grabbed his third goal of the season seven minutes before the break.
The 31-year-old picked up a Richard Gibson pass and jinked his way around goalkeeper Chris Keenan before firing home.
United almost doubled their tally on 72 minutes. Gibson’s powerful run left the home defence trailing in his wake but Keenan produced a marvellous save, pawing the ball away from the top corner.
Crues tried desperately to retrieve the situation with Gareth McKeown blasting a free-kick inches over the crossbar.
But it was McKeown who ignited the revival as the clock ticked down. His deep cross found Coates on the edge of the penalty box and his first time drive flashed into the bottom corner.
Worse was to follow for United when Marty Donnelly’s corner fell invitingly for Owens and he rammed home the winner.
Crusaders: Keenan, McKeown, McBride, Magowan (Arthurs 77), Coates, McCann, Dallas, Halliday (Rainey 45), Donnelly, Morrow, Owens. Subs not used: Watson, Magee, Hogg.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Smith, Watson, Stewart, Taggart (Haveron 77), McCutcheon, Gage, Surgenor, Gibson, Carson (McDowell 62), Hanley 6. Subs not used: Murray, McLaughlin, Young
Referee: Simon Creaney (Newtownards)