Coleraine 1-1 Cliftonville
Joe Gormley struck with a minute left on the clock as Cliftonville rescued an opening day point against Coleraine at The Showgrounds.
Trailing to an Eoin Bradley goal midway through the second-half, the Reds – for whom a series of suspensions left a number of established players watching from the sidelines – carved out a number of promising openings in their search for a leveller, with Conor McMenamin and Gormley frustratingly off target as the clock ticked down.
A clipped ball in behind from Aaron Harkin, however, set Ryan Curran free down the right and he looked up before picking out the perfect pass for Gormley to slam home.
The first serious action of note had come on 18 minutes when Cliftonville keeper Richard Brush got down well to turn an acrobatic James McLaughlin effort behind.
At the other end, Gormley shot straight at Chris Johns before Coleraine went close to breaking the deadlock with a Stephen Lowry header which crept just off target.
Thomas Maguire was unfortunate to see an attempt whistle just past the post before the Bannsiders went closer still with a deflected Ben Doherty drive that came back off the woodwork.
The hosts eventually pulled in front on 64 minutes when Doherty’s delivery was smartly chested into the far corner by Bradley, but that advantage was almost cancelled out instantly when Ronan Doherty teed McMenamin up for a strike he was only able to slam into the side netting.
Gormley then lifted an effort over the top before McLaughlin blasted wide for Coleraine, who nevertheless looked set to toast victory until Harkin’s forward ball left defender Gareth McConaghie floundering and Curran nipped in to supply Gormley with the ammunition to level.
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Ives, R Curran, Wilson, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley, Maguire, McMenamin, Gorman. Subs: Dunne, C Curran (for Bagnall, 84 mins), Harkin (for Maguire, 65 mins), Garrett (for McMenamin, 76 mins), Foster, A Donnelly.