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Dramatic Allan goal blasts hole in Linfield's title hopes

Linfield 0 Coleraine 1

By David Mason

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney last night hailed striker Jordan Allan after he bagged a dramatic winner against flagging Linfield at Windsor Park. The 21-year-old pounced with only 15 minutes remaining to send a dagger into the heart of the Blues' title ambitions.

David Healy's boys roared back into the title race following the win against champions Crusaders at the weekend, but all that good work was undone by this horror show.

They now find themselves trailing by seven points once more. To make matters worse, they had to play the majority of the game with only 10 men - just as they did at the weekend - after skipper Jimmy Callacher was dismissed by referee Raymond Crangle following a double yellow card whammy.

Kearney is now hoping that Allan will extend his stay at the club until the end of the season.

"Jordan joined us on an amateur agreement," said Kearney.

"Any player who comes in in the summer is supposedly there to the end of the season, but whether he will choose to stay or not, I don't know at this moment in time.

"After that performance, I would hope he'll be with us until May."

Kearney insists that Allan and new signing Eoin Bradley could form a deadly partnership.

"Eoin brings the best out of boys like that," added Kearney.

"There was a huge amount of work went into getting him to the club. I thought we lacked someone of his presence.

"I think he proved tonight what a handful he will be. It was a great result - one we fully deserved.

"But now we must kick on and build on this result."

Incredibly, it was Coleraine's first win at the international venue for seven years.

It was Linfield who threatened first with Mattie Clarke's left wing cross that fell for Niall Quinn, whose 20 yard effort stung the hands of Chris Johns.

But Kearney's boys, with Bradley making life difficult for the Blues' back two, Callacher and Mark Stafford, were certainly not intimidated.

Linfield had another sniff of goal on 26 minutes when Steven Douglas clipped the heels of the energetic Quinn to concede a 20 yard free kick, but Chris Casement's effort posed little problems for Johns.

And, in their next attack, Clarke managed to wriggle his way clear before drilling in a lose cross that was expertly mopped up by the experienced Douglas.

But the Blues' fans were stunned when referee Crangle dismissed Callacher after he picked up his second yellow card.

The home defender was booked for impeding Bradley on 22 minutes, but he lasted a mere 12 after that when he flattened Allan.

On the way off the pitch, it was hardly surprising that Crangle was given a roasting by the home fans.

It was the visitors who forged ahead with 15 minutes remaining. Big defender Gareth McConachie produced the most delightful of crosses for Allan to power home with the flick of his head at the back post.

The Blues thought they were level seconds later when Johns produced a brilliant save with his feet to deny Stephen Lowry and Waterworth converted the rebound, but the referee's assistant Andy Neeson had the flag up immediately to indicate an offside infringement.

Allan was only inches away from adding a second with four minutes left - his stinging low drive found its way past Roy Carroll, but also past the post.

It was a night that will not live long in the memory of the home faithful - and a night the title may have just slipped away.

Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Stafford, Callacher, Quinn (Stewart 73), Casement (Bright 84), Lowry, Clarke, Frazer (Millar 46), Waterworth, Burns. Unused subs: Fallon, Ward.

Coleraine: Johns, Kane, Mullan, Douglas, McCauley, McCafferty, McConaghie, Lyons, Parkhill, Bradley, Allan. Unused subs: Ogilby, Edgar, Twigg, Whiteside, Gawne.

Man of the match: Steven Douglas

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).      

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