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Coleraine have everything to fight for after digging in

Velez Mostar 2 Coleraine 1


Opener: Ben Doherty was on target for Coleraine last night in Bosnia

Opener: Ben Doherty was on target for Coleraine last night in Bosnia

Opener: Ben Doherty was on target for Coleraine last night in Bosnia

Coleraine ensured their hopes of passage through to the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League weren’t over as they battled to a narrow defeat against Velez Mostar in Bosnia.

The Bannsiders - who took a famous scalp against NK Maribor last year - took a shock lead through Ben Doherty but were pegged back from the spot after Aaron Traynor was adjudged to have handled inside the box.

The visitors endured more frustration from the spot in the second half after Lyndon Kane was dismissed for a deliberate handball.

In a match played in searing heat, the hosts carved out the first chance on eight minutes when Samir Radovac fired over.

The Bannsiders took the lead a minute later with their only shot on target of the first half. A quick break found Doherty and the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner.

This sparked the Bosnian side into life and Haris Ovcina, Mehmed Cosic and Dzenan Zajmovic all failed to test Gareth Deane.

However, the hosts’ pressure finally paid off on 35 minutes after Traynor was penalised for handling. The ball was picked up by Brandao de Souza, who calmly rolled his strike in.

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Just after the hour, Deane was called into action to dive low to save Edo Vehabovic’s well-driven strike from outside the box.

On 65 minutes, Coleraine suffered a major blow when full-back Kane cleared a goal-bound effort with his hand, resulting in a second spot-kick for the Bosnian side. The defender received his marching orders with Brandao converting for a second time.

Unsurprisingly, the Bannsiders faced an onslaught from the hosts as lively substitute Omar Prses was looking dangerous down the left.

Remarkably, Oran Kearney’s side almost grabbed the most unlikeliest of equalisers when Aaron Jarvis’ dipping effort just sailed inches over.

There was one final scare for Coleraine when Radovac was unmarked inside the six-yard box, but he could only head straight at Deane. However, Coleraine held firm to only lose by a single goal ahead of the second leg at Mourneview Park.

FK Velez Mostar: Bogdanovic, Radovic (Zubanovic ‘82 mins), Zvonic (Isic ‘46 mins), Zeljkovic, Cosic, Andusic (Vehabovic ‘58 mins), Ovcina, De Souza (Georgijevic ‘68 mins), Hasanovic (Prses ‘46 mins), Zajmovic, Radovac.

Subs Not Used: Kacavenda (GK), Osmic, Sijamija, Ferreyra, Alagic.

Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Canning, Brown, Doherty, Lowry, Carson, Wilson, Glackin, Traynor (McLaughlin ‘83 mins), Shevlin (Jarvis ‘69 mins).

Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), Bradley, Allen, Kelly, Friel.

Referee: Abdulkadir Bitigen (Turkey)

Man of the match: Aaron Canning

Match rating: 7/10

Ω Former Ballymena United defender Tony Kane has joined Championship side Dundela.

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