COLERAINE’s miserable away form continued at Inver Park on Friday night as they crumbled to a disheartening 3-0 loss to Larne.
Lee Bonis scored twice and Mark Randall the other as the hosts cut the gap on fourth-placed Crusaders to five points in the first of the post-split games.
Coleraine remains firmly anchored in sixth place and most observers would surely concede that is where they will end the regular season.
There is also no doubt that Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney has at least one eye on the end-of-season play-offs which will determine whether the club secure European football this summer.
Failure to do so could have serious consequences for one of the club’s leading ‘part-timers’ looking to keep pace with full-time players, including Friday night’s opponents.
The manager’s intentions were clear in his squad selection which showed no less than six changes from the one that lost 3-2 at home to Glenavon in their last game a fortnight ago.
And it was one of those called up, veteran striker Eoin Bradley, who nearly broke the deadlock in the first half, his header looking at the post and wide from a Josh Carson cross.
Sixty seconds later and Gareth Deane took the ball back from his net after an unusual mistake gave Larne striker Lee Bonis the easiest of finishes.
Coleraine stayed in the fight until just before half-time when Mark Randall was allowed to step forward from midfield and fire low past Deane in the corner to double the home side’s advantage.
And that’s how things went until the end when Bonis scored his second goal of the night to seal an ultimately comfortable win for Tiernan Lynch’s side.
For Coleraine, it’s about getting players back to full fitness in time for the knockout games at the end of the regular season.
They are sorely lacking the ball-carrying abilities of Jamie Glackin and Conor McKendry who face a race against time to be fit for the end of the season.
For more reactions, see Tuesday’s Chronicle newspaper.