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Heroic Trevor Carson thwarts Coleraine to save Motherwell after penalty scare in the Europa League

Coleraine 2-2 Motherwell (Motherwell win 3-0 on penalties)

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Trevor Carson is congratulated after saving all three of Coleraine's penalties to spare Motherwell's Europa League blushes.

Trevor Carson is congratulated after saving all three of Coleraine's penalties to spare Motherwell's Europa League blushes.

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -17/09/2020.        
Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road   
Motherwell's Trevor Carson is the hero in the Penalty shoot out In tonight's  game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -17/09/2020. Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road Motherwell's Trevor Carson is the hero in the Penalty shoot out In tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Coleraine, led by captain Stephen O'Donnell, gave Motherwell a scare.

Coleraine, led by captain Stephen O'Donnell, gave Motherwell a scare.

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -17/09/2020.        
Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road   
Motherwell's Allan Campbell and Coleriane Ben DohertyIn tonight's  game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -17/09/2020. Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road Motherwell's Allan Campbell and Coleriane Ben DohertyIn tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -17/09/2020.        
Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road   
Coleriane Ben Doherty celebrates his goal In tonight's  game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -17/09/2020. Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road Coleriane Ben Doherty celebrates his goal In tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -17/09/2020.        
Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road   
Motherwell's Tony Watt and Coleriane Lyndon Kane In tonight's  game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -17/09/2020. Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road Motherwell's Tony Watt and Coleriane Lyndon Kane In tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -17/09/2020.        
Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road   
Motherwell's Callum Lang  and Coleriane Stephen lowry In tonight's  game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -17/09/2020. Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road Motherwell's Callum Lang and Coleriane Stephen lowry In tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -17/09/2020.        
Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road   
Motherwell's Tony Watt and Coleriane Gareth McConaghie In tonight's  game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -17/09/2020. Coleraine v Motherwell Europa League Second Qualifying round At Ballycastle Road Motherwell's Tony Watt and Coleriane Gareth McConaghie In tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Trevor Carson is congratulated after saving all three of Coleraine's penalties to spare Motherwell's Europa League blushes.

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Trevor Carson proved Motherwell's hero as the Scottish side survived an almighty scare, squeaking past Coleraine on penalties in the Europa League.

The Bannsiders had trailed 2-0 at half-time but rallied with a much-improved performance after the break and levelled thanks to two typically clinical Ben Doherty penalties, the second in the final minute of normal time.

In an added bonus for the Bannsiders, Motherwell defender Bevis Mugabi was dismissed for the clumsy tackle on lively substitute Eoin Bradley that conceded the second penalty.

Going into added time a goal to the good, Bradley agonisingly struck the crossbar as the Bannsiders pushed for another huge upset.

In the end, it wasn't to be. As their penalty takers had been pitch perfect in the previous round, all five scoring to secure victory over Maribor, none could find a route past Carson, who saved all three of the hosts' opening penalties to secure the narrowest of victories.

At half-time, Coleraine could have had no questions about the scoreline. It was a half that was bossed, by and large, by the visitors with striker pairing Callum Lang and Tony Watt getting the goals their lively performances deserve.

First Lang prodded home after initial effort was saved and then former Celtic attacker Watt drove the second into the bottom corner with something of a snapshot to take the game away from their hosts.

It could have been oh so different as just seconds before the opener, Coleraine striker James McLaughlin missed a big opportunity. When Lyndon Kane crossed into the box, there was nobody the Bannsiders would have wanted to spring a march on his marker than the goal-scoring hero from their wins over La Fiorita and NK Maribor.

However, he could only head wide of the post for a miss he would rue even more when Motherwell raced up the pitch.

Josh Carson also had a decent opportunity when he smashed a half-volley over the bar from the edge of the box and, on the half-time whistle, McLaughlin ahead headed another dangerous Kane cross over.

It was story of chances missed and chances taken and eventually, shortly after the restart, Coleraine made theirs count.

This one was a penalty, won and dispatched by Doherty, who caressed his spot-kick into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Northern Ireland stopper Trevor Carson.

It rocked the Scottish visitors and Coleraine mounted a sustained period of pressure afterwards. They even had the ball in the net for a would-be equaliser, beaten only by the linesman's flag. After a corner was cleared, it was recycled by Doherty but as Carson laid it across goal for Gareth McConaghie to finish, a belated flag was waved, much to the hosts' dismay.

Another big opportunity came and went with 17 minutes left on the clock as clever thinking Jamie Glackin played in Stephen Lowry with a quick free-kick but, unmarked, he could only prod a volley wide of goal.

Just when it looked like that was to be the last chance of the game, Eoin Bradley was hauled down inside the box by Mugabi, with Doherty this time finding the top corner.

Bradley caused more problems in extra-time, agonisingly smashing the underside of the bar just after half-time.

It was the only real opportunity in tight 30 minutes of additional time as the referee's whistle confirmed another bout of penalties for Coleraine, this one not quite as successful as the last.

In the end, it's the end of the club's longest ever European run that was so, so close to having a fourth chapter.

Belfast Telegraph