Stephen Carson produced a sensational strike to earn 10-man Coleraine a point against Portadown at the Showgrounds last night.
Handed the captain’s armband with new skipper David Ogilby suspended, Carson celebrated his elevation in fine style as he netted a sparkling 20-yard equaliser to cancel out Matthew Tipton’s sixth goal for the Ports since his arrival from Dundalk.
Coleraine midfielder Gareth Tommons was sent-off late in the second-half after picking up a senseless second yellow card for dissent, but Oran Kearney’s new charges saw out the game and remain unbeaten in his three games in charge.
The point takes Ronnie McFall’s men into fifth place, overtaking Ballymena United who went down 2-0 at home to Glentoran.
Towering defender Marc Mukendi, again handed a striking role for the Bannsiders alongside Leon Knight, sent an early header over the top from a Carson free kick.
The Ports defence then failed to pick up busy David Scullion, whose goal bound left foot shot was deflected away from the target by Brian Gartland’s boot.
At the other end Kevin Braniff found himself with time and space to crash a close range rising shot over the bar.
The Ports went in front after 25 minutes. Tipton was given room to connect with Alan Cawley’s cross and he headed in from close range.
Classy Carson then conjured up a sensational reply. The winger took possession on halfway and eased past two players. An interchange with Knight opened up the chance for the former international to fire a curling right foot shot past goalkeeper David Miskelly from 20 yards.
Only the woodwork denied Tipton his seventh goal of the season. Coleraine substitute Daibhibd McIvor’s error presented Sean Mackle with the chance to cross, the former Dundalk striker met it first time. His effort beat goalkeeper Davy O’Hare, but came back off the underside of the crossbar.
Miskelly was then on hand to secure Knight’s early second-half header when Carson produced another telling cross.
Wesley Boyle sent danger man Tipton through a few minutes later, but Mukendi timed his tackle to perfection, stopping the striker in his tracks.
Tommons received his marching orders for a second bookable offence in 73 minutes after expressing his frustration at a free-kick award against him. Before the end Scullion to steer a knock down from Mukendi wide.
COLERAINE: O’Hare. Canning (McIvor 28), Beverland, McVey (Boyce 41), Knight, Scullion, Carson, Watt, Tommons, Lowry. Subs. Quinn, Cullen.
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Breen, Gartland, Mackle, Redman, Ramsey, Boyle (Leckey 76), Tipton (Haire 85), Braniff, Breen, McCabe, Cawley (Clarke 67). Subs. Hogg, Teggart.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).