Published Friday, 07 March 2014
Coleraine's Stephen Lowry celebrates with David McDaid. (© Presseye)
The only goal of the game at The Showgrounds came with 10 minutes to go with Stephen Lowry giving Coleraine their first win in six attempts.
The visitors were hoping to bounce back from their Co Antrim Shield final defeat to Linfield earlier in the week but it was the home side making the better start. Davy McDaid set up Eoin Bradley inside two minutes, but he shot tamely at Sean O'Neill.
Ruairi Harkin tested O'Neill in the next attack and it was McDaid again with a fine effort that flew inches wide.
The Crues were struggling to create anything of note and O'Neill kept it scoreless by dealing with a well struck free kick by Harkin.
On 38 minutes Crusaders created their first chance when defender Paul Leeman set up Declan Caddell but his diving header was well saved by Eugene Ferry.
It was still Coleraine the dominant force in the second half and after missing a couple of half chances the goal their efforts deserved finally arrived on 80 minutes.
Substitute Shane Jennings and McDaid linked up well to give Lowry the chance to win the game and he made no mistake with a clinical finish.
In Friday night's only other Premier League clash Glentoran put their poor home form behind them with a resounding 3-0 win over Ballymena.
It was a hammer blow for United and their bid to make the top six with the Glens now five points ahead of them and Glenn Ferguson's side with just two games to go before the split.
David Scullion forced the first save of the game on 13 minutes when he was playing in by Stephen McAlorum but United stopper Aaron Shanahan did well to make the save.
It was McAlorum and Scullion who again linked up to create another chance with Shanahan again called upon to deny the Glens the lead.
Former Glentoran striker Darren Boyce went close when he headed just over from Alan Teggart's cross.
However, it was the more threatening Glens who made the breakthrough on 31 minutes.
Danny McKee took the most of his chance to impress manager Eddie Patterson when he raced into the box and rounded the keeper to slot home.
The visitors had a chance to draw level minutes into the second half when Allan Jenkins was bearing down on goal but Willie Garrett made great tackle to clear the danger.
The Glens doubled their lead on 50 minutes, McKee delivered a fine cross and Fra McCaffrey added the finish.
It was all over for United when Johnny Taylor brought down Jim O'Hanlon in the box and from the resultant penalty O'Hanlon fired home from the spot.
A blow for Ballymena, but a boost for Glentoran ahead of their Irish Cup quarter-final against Glenavon at The Oval on Monday night.
Friday's final scores:
Coleraine 1-0 Crusaders
Coleraine: Lowry 80.
Glentoran 3-0 Ballymena Utd
Glentoran: McKee 31, McCaffrey 50, O'Hanlon 75 (PEN).
© UTV News