Irish Cup: Coleraine into semi-finals after stunning 3-2 win over Larne

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Bannsiders book smei-final spot with victory over Larne

Eoin Bradley's 87th minute strike sent Coleraine into a fourth straight Irish Cup semi-final with a 3-2 win over Larne.

For the Inver Reds, it is a third consecutive Irish Cup exit at the hands of the Bannsiders.

Lyndon Kane's own goal and Jeff Hughes' header saw Larne lead twice.

But James McLaughlin and Stephen Lowry responded for Coleraine before substitute Bradley squeezed home the late winner at the near post.

There was much anticipation before the encounter after the two sides dished up an eight-goal thriller in the same stage of last season's competition, and Friday's match was every bit as pulsating as the fixture 12 months ago.

Larne will rue not going into half-time with a more commanding lead having dominated the opening 45 minutes, while Coleraine once again demonstrated that, under Oran Kearney, they are a remarkably resilient side who are rarely out of a contest.

Strikers star in wonderful spectacle

While Bradley, a first half replacement for Ian Parkhill, will grab the headlines for a brilliant display and the match-winning strike, the forwards on both sides were the stars of an engrossing game.

Larne were, by a distance, the better team in the first half with David McDaid and Martin Donnelly relentlessly probing Coleraine's defence with clever and varied movement.

Donnelly struck the bar after six minutes and forced keeper Chris Johns into a smart early save as the hosts pressed for an opener, but the Bannsiders kept them out as it looked like the sides would arrive at the interval still deadlocked.

However the breakthrough arrived in the 44th minute when defender Kane inadvertently headed Donnelly's free-kick past Johns to put Larne in front.

Larne
Larne took a deserved one goal lead into half-time

Bradley makes the difference

Coleraine boss Kearney conceded after the game the Bradley had not been fit enough to start, but the 36-year-old striker was called upon halfway through the opening half as Coleraine struggled to make an impression.

Bradley went about his work with typical physicality, and had a hand in Coleraine's equaliser as he held off his man to tee up McLaughlin, who drilled a brilliant low volley into the corner on 54 minutes.

Larne's rhythm from the first half appeared to have gone missing as the Bannsiders found success with a more direct approach.

However the hosts rallied and regained the lead through skipper Hughes, who headed in Donnelly's whipped free-kick at the back post to the delight of the raucous home crowd.

Eoin Bradley
Striker Bradley has scored 16 Irish Cup goals

The lead lasted only for five minutes though as John Herron was penalised for a handball while going up for a header with Josh Carson, allowing Lowry to place the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.

After Larne keeper Conor Devlin produced a fine save to keep out Kane, it looked as though the game would, as it had last year, require extra-time.

However with three minutes of regular time remaining, Bradley turned defender Harry Flowers before his low effort squeezed between the legs of Devlin at the near post to book Coleraine into the last four.

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