Danske Bank Premiership
Ballymena United .................... 3
Coleraine ................................. 3
SUPER sub Johnny McMurray left it late, very late, before shooting in the equaliser in this ‘derby’ day cracker at Ballymena Showgfounds.
The six goal thriller kept the big turnout of spectators on their toes throughout.
Coleraine played almost all the second half with 10-men, striker James McLaughlin receiving his second yellow card of the game in the 50th minute after a clumsy tackle of Ballymena captain Jim Ervin.
They worked quite a shift and at one stage lead the League leaders 3-1.
But the Sky Blues, keen to keep their unbeaten run intact, showed true grit and pulled a goal back through Andy Burns.
Then up stepped 27-year-old striker McMurray - coming on for defender Kofi Balmer with 61 minutes gone.
With Coleraine thinking they were about to end Ballymena’s unbeaten run of 17 super sub McMurray was in the right place to thump home the equaliser in the 90th minute.
Ballymena’s run includes 12 wins in a row.
But the League leaders were stunned by Coleraine with just nine minutes gone.
Midfield skipper Stephen Lowry volleyed in past 20-year-old 'keeper Thomas McDermott after the ball had been poorly cleared by the home defence.
Prior to the opener Coleraine centre half Gareth McAuley powered a free header wide.
Their lead was short lived and United fired in the equaliesr from the penalty spot five minutes later.
Ballymena striker Cathair Friel stepped up to take the spot kick and slotted home past 'keeper Chris Johns.
It was big Adam Lecky who won the penalty for the Sky Blues. He reacted quickly after Johnny Addis' header from a Steven McCullough corner was parried.
As he raced for the breaking ball right in front of goal Johns brought him down.
But the Bannsiders regained the lead again in the 27th minute.
A Josh Carson corner was headed back across goal by Darren McCauley for Aaron Canning.
His shot was fired in by McLaughlin.
Five minutes into the second half Coleraine were reduced to 10 men, McLaughlin getting his marching orders for a clumsy foul on United captain Jim Ervin.
Ten man Coleraine went further ahead in the 65th minute!
Carson was allowed to cut through the home defence before setting Ian Parkhill on his way. He raced at goal and slotted low and hard in past McDermott.
Friel glanced a header goal bound and Lyndon Kane did well to kick the ball off the line.
United threw themselves a lifeline in the 67th minute. From a corner kick by Millar Andy Burns powered in a header - 3-2.
A slick move saw Millar cross into the Coleraine area and sub Ryan Mayse cracked in a shot on goal but Johns was equal to the effort.
After the McMurray equaliser Mayse had a shot not too far wide.
Ballymena manager David Jeffrey said the game was a Boxing Day cracker played in front of a tremendous crowd.
He admitted being disappointed at the goals his side conceded but praised his players from coming back from 3-1 to earn a deserved draw.
Ballymena United - McDermott, Addis, McGinty (Mayse, 70), Friel, McCullough, Burns (Whiteside, 83), Balmer (McMurray, 61), Winchester, Ervin, Lecky, Millar.
Subs not used - McCauley, Quigley, Nolan, Shevlin..
Coleraine - Johns, Kane, Mullan (Douglas, 46), Harkin, McCauley, Lowry, McLaughlin, Carson, McConaghie, Parkhill (Bradley, 80) , Canning.
Subs not used - Doherty, Crown, O'Donnell, McGonigle, Gawne.
Referee - Mr Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).