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James McLaughlin at double for Coleraine in triumph against Ballymena United

Ballymena Utd 1-2 Coleraine

By Billy Weir

Published 19/11/2015

Damage done: James McLaughlin sinks Sky Blues
Damage done: James McLaughlin sinks Sky Blues

There's just no stopping Coleraine and their hot-shot striker James McLaughlin at the moment as the Bannsiders booked their place in the last four of the JBE League Cup.

McLaughlin, who had a spell at Ballymena United, bagged his 13th and 14th goals of the season as Oran Kearney's men kept up their impressive record at Warden Street.

They had to survive a nervy last few seconds when Kyle McVey scored against his old side but Coleraine were not to be denied.

There was a narrow escape for the home team with just eight minutes on the clock when Gareth Rodger slipped and Ian Parkhill scampered through on goal, rounded Dwayne Nelson and shot for home only for Jim Ervin to get back to clear. The ball eventually found it's way back to Parkhill and this time he was to be denied by the woodwork but five minutes later it was to be third time lucky for the Bannsiders.

A classy through ball by Lyndon Kane released Jamie McGonigle down the right and he looked up and picked out McLaughin and the red-hot striker picked his spot perfectly to side-foot high into the top corner.

The Sky Blues finally fashioned a chance in the 25th minute when Mark Magennis pulled the ball back for Willie Faulkner whose rising shot just missed the target.

Oran Kearney's men continued to press, the impressive Parkhill poking the ball past the target just before the half hour and shortly afterwards setting McLaughlin up for an effort that was saved by Nelson.

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With the wind in their advantage the Sky Blues threatened more and Michael Doherty had to react quickly when Faulkner's bouncing half volley threatened to creep into the net.

Doherty was sharp again four minutes later pulling off a wonderful instinctive save to tip over Allan Jenkins' powerful header.

Glenn Ferguson threw Matthew Shevlin and Darren Henderson into the fray with 20 minutes to go and it produced a goal almost immediately - but at the other end.

As United got to grips with their new formation the ball was played up the pitch to an eagerly waiting McLaughlin who closed in on goal and calmly picked his spot for his and Coleraine's second of the night.

The game looked to be petering out before McVey struck from close range to convert the rebound when Doherty could only parry Mark Magennis' free-kick but it was too little, too late.

Ballymena United: Nelson, Ervin, Ruddy (Ferguson 78), Rodger, McVey, T Kane, Faulkner (Shevlin 69), E. Kane, Gawley (Henderson 69), Magennis, Jenkins. Subs not used: McBride, Taylor.

Coleraine: Doherty, L. Kane, Falconer, Harkin, Douglas, Beverland, Parkhill, McCafferty, McGonigle (Brown 60), McLaughlin (Lyons 88), McCauley (Higgins 74). Subs not used: Morrow, Watt.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).


Belfast Telegraph

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