John Courtney was the hero for Coagh, grabbing the winner in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dollingstown at Hagan Park last Saturday.
It was a precious three points for Coagh in their bid to avoid relegation, but Ian Todd might have expected to win by a greater margin against a team that had to play for more than an hour with ten men.
Dollingstown carved out the first chance of the game within two minutes when Glenn Hand ghosted in behind full back James Ferguson but his shot was tipped round the post by William Hassan.
A couple of minutes later Coagh’s Josh Rohdich showed good feet to beat two men but his shot went well wide of Shane McPartlan’s goal.
The visitors were perhaps just shading the territorial battle and Hand again registered a shot on target, but it was easily dealt with by Hassan.
Shannon Crooks then picked up a soft booking after tangling with former Coagh player Jamie Tomelty. A minute later Tomelty was involved again when he found himself in a great position in the box, but his low cross found no takers.
The game was turned on its head on 22 minutes when Dollingstown’s Marty Hughes was dismissed for a two-footed lunge, with Ferguson booked for his reaction to the incident.
It got even better for the home team moments later. Coagh were rewarded a free kick near the halfway line, but instead of lobbing it into the box the ball was squared to centre half Karl Steele, who strode forward and from fully 30 yards smashed a low drive past McPartlan.
The goal gave Coagh a much-needed boost and for the remainder of the half their opponents rarely threatened. However, Coagh - despite the extra man advantage – failed to test McPartlan and suffered a blow when Crooks limped off, to be replaced by Stephen Glasgow.
Having looked comfortable, Coagh shot themselves in the foot within one minute of the restart. Little looked on when Richard Thompson picked up the ball 40 yards from goal, but the forward somehow managed to slalom through four or five defenders before hammering the ball into the roof of Hassan’s net.
A shell-shocked Coagh looked to respond and Jason Gillespie fired over on the angle when a cross looked the better option. The same player then spun his marker and brought a save out of McPartlan, although again team-mates were screaming for the ball to be squared.
The hosts were looking the more likely to score, but Dollingston were far from finished. Tomelty was beginning to exert more influence on proceedings and it was his cross on 60 minutes that Thompson skewed narrowly wide.
The same player then showed Steele a clean pair of heels to latch onto a ball over the top and only a good block on the six yard box prevented the visitors going ahead.
The action swung to the other goalmouth, with Courtney warming Mcpartlan’s hands with a stinging 25-yard effort.
And on 70 minutes a great cross by Scott McGeown was headed inches over the bar by Gillespie when he had the goal at his mercy.
The effects of playing on a heavy pitch with just ten men started to take their toll on the Dollingstown players, and Coagh took full advantage with 13 minutes to go.
Ferguson, marauding forward from left back, picked up an excellent pass and drove the ball across goal. It was cleared but only into the path of Courtney who fired home from 12 yards with the help of a slight deflection.
That proved to be the winning strike, although the Coagh forwards should perhaps have shown more ruthlessness, too often taking the wrong option in front of goal.
And Dollingstown almost made them pay in the last action of the match when substitute Scott Adams headed narrowly over the bar from a corner.
Coagh: W. Hassan, S. McGeown, J. Ferguson, K. Steele, A. Canning, J. Young, T. O’Brien, S. Crooks, J. Courtney, J. Rohdich, J. Gillespie Subs: S. Glasgow, F. Kelly, M. Taylor, I. Todd