Rainey nicks a draw for classy Crusaders
Crusaders restored the Irish League’s bruised reputation in Europe last night, but will still travel to Macedonia with work to do after a well-deserved 1-1 draw.
They enjoyed long spells of the ball against FC Rabotnicki at Mourneview Park, but couldn’t find the telling equaliser until injury-time through Davy Rainey.
It was hero of the night Rainey who was first to test the visiting goalkeeper on 11 minutes. He picked the ball on the right flank after Rabotnicki had cleared an initial corner and zipped an effort along the surface which was easily gathered by Kristijan Waumovski.
Martin Donnelly then floated in a free-kick from the left which gave his side a great opportunity to take the lead. As goalkeeper Waumovski punched the initial delivery clear Coates and Chris Morrow collided with each other in an attempt to head home the loose ball.
Bobi Boziwovski then had the ball in the net at the other end as the half moved into stoppage time, however he had already been penalised by the referee for controlling the ball with his hand.
A goal from Boziwovski edged the visitors ahead just two minutes into the second half, after a slick move cut open the heart of the Crusaders defence.
A cushioned pass from Dusan Savic put Boziwovski clear of Coates and the midfielder made no mistake firing in off the post past a stranded Chris Keenan.
The Hatchetmen were then reduced to 10 men when Coates was sent off with 68 minutes on the clock.
The Northern Ireland defender was involved in an off the ball altercation with Dusan Savic, but the big defender seemed stunned to see red after a long period of treatment for Savic.
Jordan Owens almost made an immediate impact as a substitute as he met a Donnelly corner only to plant a header straight at the goalkeeper.
Owens was involved in the game’s next major incident as he was trailed down inside the box by goalkeeper Waumovski, with the big stopper receiving his marching orders.
Substitute goalkeeper Martin Bogatinon immediately faced Donnelly from the spot, with the ex-Sheffield United winger Donnelly clipping the bar and sending the penalty over the target.
The Crues weren’t to be denied a deserved equaliser however as Donnelly made up for that penalty miss sweeping the ball in from the left flank and Rainey ghosted in to head home from six yards as the game moved into stoppage time.
Crusaders: Keenan, McKeown, McBride, Morrow (Owens), Magowan, Coates, McCann, Doherty (Black), Dickson, Rainey, Donnelly. Unused Subs: Hogg, Black, Melly, Caddell, Arthurs, Magee.
FC Rabotnicki: Waumovski, Boziwovski, Sekulovski, Bojovic, Ristov, Boziwovski, Gligorov, Muarem (Da Silva), Todorovski, Vandeir (Bogatinon), Savic (Petkovski). Unused subs: Tuneski, Jose Karlos, Fabio Silva, Da Silva,
Referee: Asaf Kenan (Israel)