Irish Premiership: Coleraine 2-1 Ballinamallard United

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Buoyant Bannsiders eight clear after beating Ballinamallard

Irish Premiership leaders Coleraine beat bottom club Ballinamallard United to move eight points clear at the top of the table.

The Bannsiders took the lead in the 49th minute through a Colm McLaughlin own goal and quickly followed up with a second by Joe McCready.

United got one back when Matthew Smyth headed past Chris Johns on 71 minutes.

Coleraine, who finished third last season, have taken 37 points from a possible 39 in this campaign.

They are eight points ahead of second-placed Glenavon who have a match in hand, and the top two meet at Mourneview Park on Saturday.

Oran Kearney's men were made to battle for Tuesday's victory, having struggled to find a way through in a largely uneventful first half.

United keeper Richard Brush saved a shot by Josh Carson, while McCready and Aaron Traynor failed to capitalise at the back post following an Ian Parkhill cross.

The breakthrough came early in the second period when Jamie McGonigle's low ball in from the left was turned into his own net by defender McLaughlin in front of goal.

McCready made it 2-0 in the 54th minute, running through to fire past Brush at his near post.

Ballinamallard hit back when Richard Clarke's free-kick into the penalty area was headed in by Smyth.

What they said

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney: "People just write teams like Ballinamallard off but they are no mugs.

"These games can be banana skins where you can slip up, so it is brilliant to get the result.

"For the first time this season, I sensed a bit of frustration in the players at half-time.

"I was disappointed with the goal we conceded as we switched off for one set piece and it gave them something to go for in the final 15 minutes."

Ballinamallard manager Gavin Dykes: "We showed great heart and spirit which was pleasing but I am annoyed with the referee who did not have one of his better games.

"For the first goal they got a corner and it was never a corner.

"The referee didn't protect the players enough. I have an Under-19 international who has been kicked around the place again.

"But that is nothing against Coleraine. I hope they go on to win the league because they are a really good footballing side."

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