David Jeffrey bemoans red card as Ballymena fall to Boxing Day defeat to Coleraine
Two early goals helped Coleraine earn the Boxing Day bragging rights and a return to winning ways after an indifferent set of results.
The deadlock was broken on nine minutes as Aaron Canning’s long throw into the box was flicked on by Eoin Bradley into the path of Josh Carson. The midfielder let fly with a sweet left-foot drive that found the bottom corner.
Seven minutes later the home side would double their lead as Sky Blues ‘keeper Jordan Williamson denied Bradley from close range, but the ball rebounded into the path of Jamie Glackin who converted from close range.
Despite controlling large spells of possession in the first-half, the only meaningful chance carved out by the visitors landed at the feet of Joshua Kelly but he was denied at close range by Chris Johns, with Stephen Lowry going close to adding a third before the half-time whistle.
The Braidmen made a bright start after the break and earned a succession of corner-kicks, but the game was over as a contest on 64 minutes as Williamson was adjudged to have handled Bradley’s effort outside the box and was dismissed by referee Jamie Robinson.
After having no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, Ballymena were forced to stick midfielder Declan Carville between the posts and he produced a succession of saves to deny Carson and Ben Doherty as Coleraine eased to all three points at a packed Ballycastle Road.
Speaking after the game, Sky Blues boss David Jeffrey spoke of his disbelief at Williamson’s dismissal.
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“I am totally disappointed by the sending off,” he said.
“I think any right thinking person could see very clearly that it wasn’t a sending off.
“There was also a doubt as to whether or not Coleraine’s second goal was offside, but the sending off had a massive difference.
“We came out in the second-half and we were putting Coleraine under a considerable amount of pressure but the red card just changes the whole complexion of the game.
“I felt played we really, really well and the difference was that Coleraine were clinical and you have to say well done to them.
“You have absolutely no chance when decisions like that go against you and Coleraine managed the game well afterwards.”
His counterpart Oran Kearney was pleased to see his troops register a first win in four matches, which means they now sit in third spot in the Danske Bank Premiership ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Linfield.
“Overall it’s been a tough month and it’s been well documented we have had a few aches and pains, and we feel like we’ve had to field a different team throughout December in relation to how consistent the numbers were in September, October and November,” he said.
“I thought today we looked right back at it and the solid Coleraine of September, October and November.
“We didn’t look like we were going to give much away and we looked dangerous at the other end of the pitch, so to hit back into that form, especially in a derby on Boxing Day, is pleasing.
“As much as we haven’t picked up many points in the last three games, we have edged the majority of those fixtures and the thing letting us down was not putting the ball into the back of the net.
“With our first two chances of the game today we had two fantastic finishes and at this level it’s a big contributing factor to earning all three points.
“There’s no point crying about being stiff or sore ahead of the Linfield game as it’s the same for both teams.
“You’re hoping the 44 hours recovery happens a little bit easier and quicker with three points and that a little bit of adrenaline is still there.”
COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Canning, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin (Gawne ’80 mins), Bradley (McGuckin ’90 mins), Carson, McConaghie, Glackin, Traynor.
Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), Douglas, O’Donnell Parkhill, Maciulaitis.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Williamson, T. Kane, Addis, Knowles (Carville ’65 mins), McCullough, Andrew Burns, McGrory, Ervin, Lecky, Millar (K. Kane ’72 mins), Kelly.
Subs Not Used: Whiteside, McGinty, Mayse, Glendinning, Lavery.
Referee: Jamie Robinson
Belfast Telegraph Digital