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Tough battle for Coleraine to take League Cup crown

Coleraine are crowned League Cup champions after a win over Crusaders. Credit: Presseye

Coleraine beat Crusaders 2-1 at Windsor Park to be crowned League Cup champions, but boss Oran Kearney felt it was a hard-fought win for his side.

Crusaders opened the scoring early on, with a goal from former Bannsiders striker Jamie McGonigle 10 minutes into Saturday night’s game.

A poor clearance from Coleraine goalie Chris Johns eventually found its way to McGonigle, who then buried a shot past him.

Listen, finals are very hard to come by in relation to getting to them – winning them’s even tougher, so we’re delighted to get over the line.

– Oran Kearney, Coleraine FC

But Coleraine levelled things back up before half-time, when the lively Jamie Glackin was adjudged to have been pushed in the box and Stephen Lowry bagged the resulting penalty.

Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Coleraine took the lead – despite protests from the Crues.

A corner was fumbled by their keeper Sean O’Neill under pressure from the Coleraine attack and James McLaughlin headed in on the line to send their travelling support wild.

Coleraine's James McLaughlin celebrates scoring against Crusaders. Credit: Presseye

While O’Neill felt had been impeded in his attempt to claim the corner – a position shared by many of his teammates - the referee let the goal stand.

McGonigle then spurned a golden chance to send the game to extra-time as his effort flew over the bar with virtually the last kick of the game.

That left the North Coast side to run out the winners and lift the trophy for the first time in 32 years.

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney with the League Cup trophy. Credit: Presseye

“It was tough – I thought Crusaders were super in the first half,” the Coleraine manager admitted.

“To be honest, we struggled and we didn’t get out of the blocks probably the way we wanted. I thought second half, we looked more like ourselves.”

Coleraine celebrate with the League Cup trophy. Credit: Presseye