Irish Premiership: Aaron Canning fires Coleraine past Carrick Rangers

Coleraine are unbeaten in 2021 thanks to Aaron Canning's goal
Coleraine are unbeaten in 2021 thanks to Aaron Canning's goal

Aaron Canning kept Coleraine's Irish Premiership title challenge alive with the only goal of the game against Carrick Rangers at the Showgrounds.

In a scrappy encounter with few real chances, defender Canning broke the deadlock on 76 minutes with a powerful finish from close range.

Leaders Linfield hold an eight-point advantage over Oran Kearney's men.

However Coleraine have two games in hand over the Blues in their bid for a first league title since 1974.

The first-half was full of effort but little real quality. Steven Gordon put in an excellent block to turn James McLaughlin's cross over his own bar and Carrick forward Jordan Gibson had two-half chances shortly before the break.

McLaughlin had another strike blocked by Chris Rodgers, who was on for the injured Chris Ramsey, in the five minutes of injury time, which were caused by assistant referee Neil Gillespie, who was forced off with an injury and replaced by fourth official Peter McGrath.

Kearney introduced Jamie Glackin and Eoin Bradley at the break for McLaughlin and Stewart Nixon in a bid to provide a spark but the lacklustre nature of the game continued.

Daniel Kelly fired over from the edge of the area in a rare Carrick threat before Glackin had a penalty appeal waved away after a challenge by Caolan Loughran.

However Coleraine got the lead they were looking for when Canning netted his first goal of the season. Captain Stephen O'Donnell headed onto the crossbar from Glackin's corner and, after a brief goalmouth scramble, Canning fired through the bodies to make the breakthrough.

Eoin Bradley nearly added a second five minutes later but his effort was tipped over the bar by Aaron Hogg and Ben Doherty fired an effort well over from the edge of the area late on.

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