Coleraine’s memorable Europa League campaign finally came to an end at the Showgrounds this evening in dramatic circumstances.
Motherwell proved a step too far as the Scottish Premier League side won a hard-fought encounter 3 0 in a penalty shoot out.
Callum Lang struck after a quarter of an hour when he pounced from close range to put Motherwell in front after his initial effort had been saved by Gareth Deane.
Tony Watt added a second on 36 minutes when he collected a ball from Lang and drilled past Deane.
But Ben Doherty hauled Coleraine back into the contest three minutes after the restart when he converted a penalty.
Gareth McConaghie thought he had equalised but his effort was disallowed for offside.
However, Oran Kearney’s side produced a spirited second half showing and deservedly levelled in injury time when Doherty scored a second penalty after Eoin Bradley had been fouled.
They were unable to repeat their Maribor heroics with Motherwell winning 3 0 on penalties, with Trevor Carson saving from Ian Parkhill, Lyndon Kane and Gareth McConaghie.
Despite the disappointment, the players can hold their heads high after victories over La Fiorita and Maribor and another gutsy effort tonight.
The European run may have ended tonight but star striker James McLaughlin still believes there are plenty of positives to take ahead of the new season (provisionally starting October 17).
“We are definitely ready for the league to start,” said James.
“We have been back training for around 12 weeks and our fitness levels are top notch.
“These European games will have helped boost confidence but our confidence is high from last season anyway.
“We will build on this run and when the league starts see how far we can go.”
After the memories of this Euro run – not to mention 660,000 Euros in prize money – a return to continental action next season will be an immediate target.
Coleraine : Deane, Kane, Jarvis, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin, Carson, McConaghie, O’Donnell, Traynor, Nixon (Substitutes – Glackin for Jarvis 7, Mullan, Bradley for Nixon 50, Tweed, Parkhill for Traynor 73, Allen for McLaughlin 116)