Darren Boyce heads Ballymena United to rare derby double
Coleraine 0 - Ballymena U 1
It has taken Ballymena United six years to chalk up back-to-back victories over rivals Coleraine.
Darren Boyce used his head to sink former club Coleraine in the Ballycastle Road derby on Saturday.
The striker nodded Neal Gawley's corner into the net after less than 90 seconds to secure all three points and end a run of 21 games in which the Sky Blues have failed to win two-in-a-row against the Bannsiders.
The result takes Glenn Ferguson's side to within a point of their opponents in the table and was the first time the Braidmen have got the better of their rivals in successive games since the 2008-9 season.
Indeed, United have now lost only one of the last eight meetings with Coleraine having previously gone 13 without victory.
The Ballymena boss was happy with the result but felt his players failed to build on their flying start.
"We let Coleraine take control when we should really have pushed on, but I am satisfied that we gave nothing away and we were able to close out the win," said Ferguson.
The Sky Blues did sail close to the wind at times, though, and Coleraine assistant manager Trevor McKendry was left bemoaning their lack of finishing power.
"It was a dreadful start to get caught so early in the game," he said.
"We had 88 minutes to haul it back but United were difficult to break down.
"I reckon we deserved something from the game but you have to score to do that and that's where we failed."
Boyce was leaning backwards as he rose to drop his well-placed header out of the reach of rookie keeper Andy Findlay.
But 19-year-old Findlay, on his league debut, saved Coleraine from a even heavier defeat when he halted substitute Matthew Shevlin as he raced into the box near the end.
United keeper Tim Allen got a vital touch on the ball to unnerve youngster Jamie McGonigle in a one-on-one inside the box, but Coleraine were their own worst enemy in the finishing stakes. Under-18 international winger Brad Lyons, Darren McCauley, Joe McNeill and defender Johnny Watt all failed to find the target in the first half.
At the other end, United's Gary Thompson directed Gawley's pass over the bar. Home striker Ian Parkhill angled a shot past Allen just before half-time but it was ruled out for offside.
Coleraine substitute Gary Browne skied a Lyons pass before Gawley curled a free kick wide at the other end as the game opened up.
Coleraine: Findlay, Watt, Canning, McNeill, Ogilby, Lyons, McCafferty, Higgins, McCauley, Parkhill, McGonigle 5. Substitutions: Browne (McConigle, 56 mins), Harkin (Parkhill, 73 mins).
Ballymena: Allen, Ervin, Taylor, McBride, Kane, Gawley, Thompson, Surgenor, Teggart, Cushley, Boyce. Substitutions: Jenkins (Surgenor, 59 mins), Tipton (Cushley, 60 mins), Shevlin (Boyce, 75 mins).
Man of the match: Darren Boyce
Match rating: 6/10
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn).