Last-gasp Crues edge Bannsiders in Euro play-offs final

Jordan Owens scored an injury-time winner as Crusaders defeated Coleraine 3-2 in the European play-offs final at Seaview.

Jamie McGonigle's low shot gave Coleraine an early lead but two goals in a minute - with Jarlath O'Rourke and Daniel Larmour on target - put the Crues 2-1 in front.

Coleraine levelled in spectacular style as Josh Carson rifled into the top corner from 30 yards.

Owens applied a late close-range finish to win it for the north Belfast hosts.

The big-money reward for Crusaders is a place in the Europa Conference League qualifiers.

Coleraine seized the initiative with a goal inside the opening five minutes.

Dean Jarvis took a throw-in on the left flank which was cleverly headed by Matthew Shevlin into the path of McGonigle, who cut in from the left and fired a shot under the body of Jonny Tuffey from an acute angle.

In a first half of few chances, Ben Kennedy curled a free kick narrowly wide for the home side.

Quickfire double

But the game turned on its head when Crusaders struck twice in just over a minute.

Firstly the home side stretched Coleraine on the left hand side and the ball was worked via Philip Lowry and Paul Heatley to in-rushing left-back O’Rourke, who found the net with an assured right-foot finish.

Just over 60 seconds later Crusaders were in front as Coleraine skipper Stephen O’Donnell lost his footing in attempting to make a clearance and zefender Daniel Larmour was on hand to blast home the loose ball, via a deflection off the grounded O’Donnell.

Coleraine spurned a a great chance to level on the hour mark when Jamie McGonigle latched onto a Dean Jarvis throughball and glided past the out-rushing Tuffey but the striker could only put his effort into the side netting.

However, the Bannsiders did square the tie on 70 minutes with a goal of absolute quality.

Conor McKendry’s cross was cleared by Philip Lowry as far as Josh Carson and the midfielder took a touch onto his left foot before firing a long-range bullet of a drive beyond Tuffey.

As the game ebbed and flowed from end to end, Tuffey made an awakward save from McKendry’s low shot while at the other end Rory Brown showed tremendous agility to tip Ross Clarke’s effort over the bar.

But there was to be one final twist in Crusaders’ favour two minutes into stoppage time as Ross Clarke’s corner fell to Jordan Forsythe.

He initially miskicked but Lewis Barr was able to tee up the midfielder again and he fired goalwards despite Coleraine’s Andy Scott trying to clear off the line with Jordan Owens claiming the decisive final touch.