Coleraine 3-1 Cliftonville
Cliftonville made a dreadful start to the league season after going down 3-1 to Coleraine at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
A first half brace from Evan McLaughlin had the hosts in charge at the break, but Ryan Curran glanced home to give the Reds a lifeline before the hour-mark.
The woodwork denied Ronan Hale, Dean Jarvis and Lee Lynch in the final half-hour before Jamie Glackin wrapped up victory for the Bannsiders deep into injury-time to inflict defeat on last season’s runners-up.
Reds' boss Paddy McLaughlin was less than impressed with his sides performance and felt it was nowhere near their usual standard.
“It was definitely nowhere near the standard that we have set ourselves over the last year, it was a disappointing performance right throughout,” he admitted.
“I said to the boys after the game, the game was littered by errors – sometimes you can make one or two errors in a 90 minute match and sometimes you get away with them but a lot of the time you don’t.
“When you’re seven, eight or nine – you’re almost hitting double figures with huge errors in a 90-minute match; you’ve got absolutely no chance of coming away with much and that’s exactly what’s happened.
“Coleraine deserved the win and we didn’t deserve anything from the game. We pulled the game back to 2-1 and pushed for an equaliser- which is probably something that you wouldn’t have expected after watching the first half performance. After Ronan [Hale] hit the crossbar, I thought we might have got a draw.
“Again, another error at the end sealed the game for them, too many individual errors and too many mistakes. It’s something we’ll work on and something we definitely will improve and hopefully we’ll never see a performance like that again because it’s not acceptable.”
McLaughlin opted to leave new goalkeeper Nathan Gartside on the bench and stuck with Fynn Talley. Ronan Hale made his first competitive league start and there was also a competitive league debut handed to Odhran Casey- who returned in the summer from a successful loan spell at Newry City.
The home side were first to threaten on warm afternoon on the North-Coast; on-loan Derry City striker Evan McLaughlin let fly with a low shot that Fynn Talley turned around the post at the expense of a corner.
Adam Mullan chopped down Joe Gormley and it gave Levi Ives the visitors first opportunity, though the left-back curled the resulting free-kick high and wide of the target.
Coleraine shaded the opening quarter and Jamie Glackin spurned two further chances. The first with a low drive that fizzed past the post and the second chance he ballooned over after Lee Lynch’s free kick was half cleared.
The breakthrough arrived just after the half hour mark at the Showgrounds, Josh Carson’s cross was missed by Matthew Shevlin- though Evan McLaughlin peeled away from Levi Ives for a tap-in to make it 1-0.
Talley was forced to deny Carson 60-seconds later with the Reds defence looking less than convincing.
Their defensive frailties were exposed once more as Coleraine doubled their lead on the 35th minute.
A Cliftonville free-kick was played square, and the hosts immediately pressed, Levi Ives played the ball back to Chris Gallagher- who was robbed in possession by McLaughlin and the striker doubled his tally for the afternoon.
Things almost got worse when a further defensive error allowed Lyndon Kane a sighting, but he passed up the chance and Red’s boss McLaughlin was less than amused with what he witnessed.
Ronan Doherty entered proceedings at the break in place of Odhran Casey with McLaughlin also introducing Chris Curran and Rory Hale approaching the hour-mark.
The changes proved effective as Cliftonville halved the deficit, Rory Hale linked-up with Levi Ives – who clipped in a cross that Ryan Curran glanced home to make it 2-1.
Hale almost combined with younger brother Ronan for an equaliser, but the strikers snapshot crashed back off the frame of the goal.
Coleraine recaptured their attacking threat and hit the woodwork themselves from a corner that Dean Jarvis met with his head, and it clipped the post.
Lee Lynch then saw his shot deflect off Matthew Shevlin and onto the bar and Lyndon Kane was inches away with a low effort that flashed past the post.
The game was balance until injury-time and Cliftonville may have rescued a share of the spoils.
Substitute Stephen Mallon picked out Ronan Hale with a low pass, but Hale was caught in two-minds and skewed his effort past the post.
It was a chance that the Red’s would come to rue as Coleraine wrapped up all three-points through a Jamie Glackin strike from distance that took a dip and caught out Fynn Talley to give the Bannsiders a 3-1 win at the conclusion.
COLREAINE: Gallagher, Kane, D Jarvis, Mullan, Carson, Farren, Lynch, Glackin, McLaughlin (A Jarvis 89’), McDermott, Shevlin (McCrudden 86’).
CLIFTONVILLE: Talley, Lowe (Rory Hale 56’), Casey (Doherty 46’), Addis (Moore 87’), Turner, Ives, Gallagher (C Curran 56’), McDonagh (Mallon 66’), R Curran, Ronan Hale, Gormley.
REFEREE: Lee Tavinder