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Matthew Shevlin's leveller only brings joy to Linfield as Coleraine and Glentoran draw again

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Holding on: Coleraine’s Stephen Lowry gets up close with Ciaran O’Connor

Holding on: Coleraine’s Stephen Lowry gets up close with Ciaran O’Connor

Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Mick McDermott can’t believe his eyes

Mick McDermott can’t believe his eyes

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Holding on: Coleraine’s Stephen Lowry gets up close with Ciaran O’Connor

Coleraine and Glentoran could not be separated for a second time in three days as the teams had to settle for a share of the spoils at The Showgrounds.

The Glens - who had not won a Premiership fixture on the North Coast since 2013 - made all the early running and took a deserved lead at half-time thanks to a clinical finish by Robbie McDaid.

However, Coleraine improved after the break and the introduction of Ben Doherty from the bench sparked them into life as he provided the assist for Matthew Shevlin's equaliser just after the hour mark.

In a tense second v third battle there would be great chances for both teams to snatch all three points in the late stages of the game, but it wasn't to be and their title ambitions remain only by a whisker.

Glentoran made a flying start to the contest and showed their intent early doors as a through ball found the run of Andrew Mitchell and the striker, who was handed a rare start, blazed wide from a tight angle.

Two minutes later, the visitors would go close again as a cross into the box wasn't defended by the Bannsiders and Rhys Marshall had a strike blocked, before Marcus Kane's follow-up was deflected inches wide.

Mick McDermott's men were enjoying a lot of the ball and they had a half chance on 11 minutes as a corner kick from Mitchell found his ex-Glenavon team-mate Marshall, but he couldn't steer his header on target.

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It was a fast-paced opening and on 15 minutes Coleraine missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead against the run of play as Eoin Bradley teed up Shevlin, but his attempt was expertly clawed away by Rory Brown.

A minute later, Ciaran O'Connor ran towards the Coleraine defence and he fed the ball to McDaid but his turn and effort failed to trouble Martin Gallagher.

Just after the half-hour mark, Paddy McClean sent a header into the arms of Gallagher, but the defender would prove to be a hero at the other end as he made a timely block to deny Stephen Lowry a certain goal.

However, the deadlock was broken on 42 minutes as the lively O'Connor burst into the box, he had the vision to pick out McDaid and the marksman showed his predatory instincts by firing into the bottom corner.

That advantage was almost doubled before the half-time whistle as a superb cross by Mitchell found McDaid, but his deft header trickled inches past the far post.

The second half started as the first ended with Glentoran on the front foot with Mitchell and McDaid combining, but the latter sent a daisy cutter past the far post. On 56 minutes, the east-Belfast side would be left frustrated as a through ball found McDaid but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Oran Kearney brought on Doherty less than 10 minutes into the second-half and he was the next player to try his luck as a defensive clearance landed to the Bannsiders' top scorer, but he arrowed well wide.

Doherty would play a major part in the Bannsiders' equaliser on 64 minutes as his tantalising cross was prodded home by Bradley to bring the teams back on to level terms.

The Glens looked for an instant response to that setback and they almost found it moments later as Jay Donnelly and Dale Gorman combined to find McDaid, but he couldn't nestle the ball in the bottom corner.

Both teams went in search for all three points and Coleraine would miss a glorious chance on 78 minutes as a great flick on by Bradley released Shevlin but the ex-Linfield man flashed his strike off the target when well positioned inside the box.

However, the visitors were left frustrated on 90 minutes as a delivery into the box found the unmarked Ruaidhri Donnelly inside the box.

The striker - who has been on a rich vein of form - looked certain to find the back of the net but the ball came off his shoulder and over the bar.

A point apiece for both clubs who now know that they need results elsewhere to go their way if they are to stop Linfield from lifting a 55th league title.

Coleraine: Gallagher, Kane, Canning, Lowry, Bradley, Carson, Tweed (Doherty '52 mins), O'Donnell, Glackin, Traynor, Shevlin (Allen '80 mins).

Subs not used: Henderson, Mullan, Jarvis, Wilson.

GLENTORAN: Brown, Kane (R. Donnelly '72 mins), McCullough, Bigirimana, McDaid, Mitchell (J. Donnelly '53 mins), McClean, Clucas (Gorman '38 mins), O'Connor, Marron, Marshall.

Subs not used: Morris , Gallagher, McDonagh, Plum.

Referee: Ian McNabb

Man of the match: Paddy McClean

Match rating: 7/10


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