Coleraine 2, Ballymena United 3

Ballymena United ended a four-year winless streak against Coleraine with victory in a thrilling encounter at Ballycastle Road.

Allan Jenkins wheels away in celebration after putting Ballymena United 2-0 ahead at Coleraine. Picture: John McIlwaine.

The Sky Blues survived a second half fightback from the Bannsiders to record their first ‘derby’ win since October 2009 - some 15 meetings ago.

Ballymena made just one enforced change from Saturday’s win over Crusaders with Stuart Addis replacing the injured Dwyane Nelson in goal.

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And the experienced Addis was quickly in the wars as he was cuaght with a late challenge by Stephen Carson which saw the keeper received treatement for seven minutes for what appeared to be a hand injury, before he was able to gingerly carry on.

Coleraine started much the brighter and should have taken the lead on 13 minutes when Eoin Bradley’s low cross from the right was missed in the middle by Ruairi Harkin and Gareth Tommons was unable to convert from close range.

Then a minute later, Ryan McIlmoyle’s surging run from left-back was only ended by a perfectly-timed sliding tackle by Davy Munster.

Ballymena survived a scare on 26 minutes when Eoin Bradley beat the struggling Addis to a high cross but as the ball dropped towards goal, Johnny Taylor was on hand to clear off the line.

The powerful Bradley was proving a handful and he outmuscled Munster and Kane before rifling a shot over the bar.

Instead, Ballymena rode out the storm and took the lead, against the run of play, on 42 minutes. Alan Teggart crossed from the right and his centre eluded a ruck of players in the centre before nestling in the far corner.

And United doubled their lead in first half stoppage time with a devastating counter-attack.

Gary Thompson’s long clearance from defence found David Cushley who held the ball up against Ryan McIlmoyle before releasing Allan Jenkins, who found the bottom corner with a crisp, angled finish.

Coleraine attempted to get back into the game early in the second half but after Aaron Canning released Bradley down the right-hand channel but the striker dragged the shot wide with his weaker right foot.

But the Bannsiders did reduce the deficit on 67 minutes. United made a poor clearance from Bradley’s cross and Gareth Tommons rifled home from just inside the penalty area.

Virtually from the restart, United had a chance to regain their two-goal lead when Cushley released Teggart who raced clear but as he went to go past Shannon, the keeper got a vital touch to avert a certain goal.

But Ballymena did go 3-1 ahead on 71 minutes when Jenkins found himself in acres of space from a Teggart corner to chest the ball down and fire into the bottom corner.

Back came Coleraine on 74 minutes as Bradley turned Taylor from a Carson free kick and fired past Addis from close-range.

Jenkins missed a great chance to complete his hat-trick when he blazed over with 10 minutes left and Michael Hegarty spurned a glorious chance to earn a point when he shot wastefully over in the closing stages.

Neil Lowry almost gave Ballymena some much-needed breathing space when he hit the bar in stoppage time but the Sky Blues held on for a long-awaited win over their rivals.

Coleraine: Shannon, Watt (sub Stewart 49), Douglas, Ogilby, McIlmoyle, Beverland, Canning, Harkin, Tommons, Carson, E Bradley. Subs (not used): Hegarty, Owens, J Bradley, McMullan.

Ballymena United: Addis, Kane, Munster, Taylor, Stewart, Thompson, Taggart, Surgenor (sub Davidson 80), Cushley (sub Lowry 80), Jenkins, Teggart (sub Ruddy 89). Subs (not used): Liggett, McLellan.

Referee: Colin Burns (Comber).

* For full report and reaction, see Tuesday’s Ballymena Times.