Bates inspires Linfield to fourth straight victory
Coleraine 1-3 Linfield
Linfield didn't let the grass grow under their feet at Coleraine as they scythed down Oran Kearney's young pretenders to maintain their place at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Before kick-off, Blues officials complained about the length of the Showgrounds sward and it did look as though they were going to be stumped in the long grass when former Windsor Park prodigy Rodney Brown headed the Bannsiders into the lead.
But inspired by super-charged striker Guy Bates, the Blues trimmed back the deficit courtesy of Aaron Burns' header and took the lead before half-time when Matthew Clarke converted another Bates assist.
The dismissal of home defender David Ogilby ended Coleraine's hopes of getting back on terms and sub Jamie Mulgrew added a third.
Conflicting reports are emerging over whether Ogilby - already on a yellow card - made any contact with striker Andy Waterworth.
Blues boss Warren Feeney muddied the waters somewhat when he said: "Last year Andy was too honest in the box.
"There have been a couple of times where he was fouled and got up and played on. I suggested that he should be a little more cute in that respect.
"I think officials have got a hard job but it did look a bit dubious. Andy says he caught him on the shoulder. He received the ball and if the defender commits himself you are looking for a bit of an advantage. I would probably have done the same myself.
"It's a difficult one because Andy is very quick."
Gutted Ogilby responded: "I stepped aside purposely to avoid touching him because I was already on a yellow card.
"You don't play as long as I have and not have the experience to know you will pick up another card if you do make a challenge and fail to get the ball."
Ogilby, who automatically misses Friday night's game against Ballinamallard United, added: "I will just have to take this one on the chin and move on but it is hard to swallow when you know you have done nothing wrong."
Kearney added: "The referee made a mistake but it cost us our chance of getting back into the game and now we are another man down for Friday."
The result stretched the Blues' unbeaten run against Coleraine to nine games in three years and keeps them ahead of Cliftonville on goal difference at the top of the table after four straight wins.
Feeney was happy with his players' response to going behind when Brown headed in substitute Brad Lyons' right wing cross on 32 minutes.
"We picked ourselves up and quickly got down to business," he added. "That is the sign of a determined team."
Feeney also highlighted the role of striker Bates, who provided the assists for all three goals.
"He was immense for us. His non-stop performance was top drawer and a real handful for Coleraine's defence."
The former Glenavon forward punished an error by young left back Adam Mullan to loft the ball inside for Burns to head his fifth goal of the season.
Bates created space on the right side again to deliver a cross to unmarked full back Clarke who steered home an angled left foot shot and then, after referee Marshall dismissed Ogilby, substitute Mulgrew stepped onto a Bates pass to beat keeper Michael Doherty.
COLERAINE: Doherty, Canning, Mullan, Douglas, Ogilby, Parkhill (Falconer, 69 mins), Harkin, Beverland, McGonigle (McLaughlin, 76 mins), Brown, Morrow (Lyons, 18 mins). Unused subs: Findlay, Law.
LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Ward, Hegarty (Reece Glendinning, 71 mins), Haughey, Clarke, Kee (Mulgrew, 64 mins), Lowry, Millar, Burns (Sproule, 81 mins), Waterworth, Bates. Unused subs: Deane, Quinn.
Man of the match: Guy Bates
Match rating: 8/10
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)