Misery for Bannsiders as Reds move into second place
Coleraine 0 Cliftonville 1
Coleraine suffered their second defeat in a row and their first home loss of the season, as Cliftonville continued their recent good form. Stephen Garrett's first-half strike was enough for the Reds to pick up maximum points at the Showgrounds for the first time in three years.
Coleraine rested James McLaughlin, Neil McCafferty and Lyndon Kane as they were one caution away from missing their League Cup semi-final clash with Ballymena United; while Adam Mullan came into the starting line-up.
Midfielder Ruairi Harkin missed the chance to face his old side, as the Reds made one change from the side which defeated Ballymena last weekend, with Ross Lavery coming in for the injured Derry man.
On 17 minutes good play by Jordan Allan ended with the striker robbing Jamie McGovern down the right hand side but after bursting into the penalty box, his cut-back, which was trying to find Darren McCauley, was cleared by Levi Ives.
Moments later a lung-bursting run by McCauley from inside his own half ended with him skipping away from a few challenges before sliding the ball into Allan, but his close-range strike was kept out by Cliftonville keeper Peter Burke.
Just before the half-hour mark the woodwork saved the visitors as the McCauley and Allan show struck again.
Midfielder McCauley, who was running things for the home side, saw his left wing centre find the striker but his header from 10 yards, which had Burke beaten, came back off the bar before Tomas Cosgrove cleared the loose ball.
Cliftonville's first real effort came on 32 minutes but Jason McGuinness' header from James Knowles corner was saved by Coleraine keeper Chris Johns.
The deadlock was broken, somewhat against the run of play, on 39 minutes. Poor defending by Coleraine ended with Jude Winchester cutting the ball back inside the Bannsiders' penalty box to Stephen Garrett and he made no mistake, drilling the ball low into Johns' bottom left hand corner.
Cliftonville missed a glorious chance to double their advantage from the penalty spot on 44 minutes.
Ex-Bannsider Davy McDaid broke in behind the home side's defence and despite getting his shot away from 10 yards he was brought down by Stephen Douglas. Referee Lee Tavinder pointed to the spot, but James Knowles' effort from 12 yards was well saved by Johns, diving to his left.
Burke had to make a top draw save on 49 minutes as David Kee's free-kick found Brad Lyons, but his glancing header was superbly kept out by the keeper.
Soon after Jamie McGonigle saw his stinging drive well kept out by Burke, as the home side continued to push forward for a leveller.
Cliftonville should have doubled their advantage on 70 minutes as a quick counter attack ended with Daniel Hughes' pass finding substitute Chris Curran, but with only the keeper to beat the winger's drive was kept out by Johns.
In the closing stages McCauley went close to equalising but his curling effort from the edge of the box smacked against Cliftonville defender Jamie McGovern.
Coleraine: Johns, Mullan (Ogilby 89), Douglas, McCauley, Brown, Kee (Higgins 76), McConaghie, Lyons, Parkhill, McGonigle, Allan.
Cliftonville: Burke, McGovern, Ives, McGuinness, Knowles, McDaid, Garrett, Hughes (Catney 83), Winchester, Lavery (Curran 66), Cosgrove.
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Belfast)
Man of the match: Stephen Garrett (Cliftonville)
Match rating: 6/10