Coleraine 0 Linfield 1
after extra time
Michael Carvill’s sensational late night winner steered Linfield into the quarter-finals of the IRN-BRU League Cup at the expense of Coleraine.
The little striker couldn’t have picked a better time to deliver his first goal of the season.
The 24-year-old came off the bench to reignite the Blues’ challenge before he curled a quality free kick past Gavin Cullen in the final minute of extra-time to seal victory for the Blues as the game looked destined for a late night spot kick showdown at the Showgrounds.
It was not a classic although the Blues just about edged it.
Desperate to bounce back following Saturday’s defeat by Premiership newcomers Ballinamallard United, Linfield huffed and puffed for most of the 120 minutes, displaying a frustrating inability in front of goal.
Niall Quinn presented Ryan Henderson with an early opportunity, but he failed to bring the ball under control just yards from goal.
Coleraine also failed to find the target when Ruairi Harkin's clever run into the box culminated with a pass inside for Paul Owens who scuffed his shot.
Linfield manager David Jeffrey displayed his frustration after Billy Joe Burns disappointed with the target in sight, clipping Henderson's pass wide, but the Blues got lucky seconds later.
William Murphy slipped on the ball inside his own half, leaving Stephen Lowry and Curtis Allen with only David Armstrong blocking their route to goal. However, Allen could not make the most of the chance, stepping clumsily on the ball himself to enable Armstrong to clear the danger.
The unmarked Burns then glanced a header over the bar from six yards, as he met Henderson's corner 10 minutes before the break.
Linfield's dismal form in the box continued in the second half. Henderson directed another attempt over from a pinpoint Quinn free kick and McCaul skied a snapshot.
Peter Thompson's control let him down at the vital moment in the box and Robert Garrett couldn't connect with Burns' right wing centre with only Cullen to beat.
Coleraine weathered the storm and Allen cracked a left foot shot straight at Alan Blayney, who was later relieved to see Coleraine skipper David Ogilby head Lowry's free kick off target.
Linfield's inept strikeforce miscued at the other end as Burns attempted to place Garrett's pass and only succeeded in sending the ball wide.
The ineptitude of both sides in the final third was graphically illustrated by Ogilby's 20-yard free kick, which was awarded when Armstrong sent Allen sprawling late on. The defender stepped up, only to direct his shot miles off the target.
Blayney turned Harkin's low free kick round an upright and it was Blayney to the rescue again as Aaron Canning's through ball dropped for marauding Howard Beverland but in the one-on-one with the goalkeeper, Blayney denied the centre-half.
The woodwork denied Carvill a winner in the final minute of normal time. He linked up with Quinn and took the return pass, raced into the box from the left side and duped Cullen into thinking he was pulling the ball back for a cross. Instead the little striker smashed a shot at goal only to see the ball crash off the crossbar.
Cullen comfortably gathered headed attempts from both Murphy and Henderson in injury time.
In the first period of extra time Allen went close for the home side while Carvill rolled a shot across the face of goal.
The former Northern Ireland under-21 international then delivered the final decisive low in the very last minute, steering a right foot free kick past the stranded Cullen after defender Kyle McVey had sent him to ground just outside the left edge of the penalty area.