Institute’s head of development Paul Kee had billed the game as a ‘must win’ if his side were to challenge for the title, but Ballinamallard substitute Stephen Sheridan’s second half goal cancelled out Darren McCauley’s opener as the pulsating game ended in a draw.
Midfielder McCauley, on loan from Coleraine, opened the scoring after 12 minutes when he headed in Declan McKeevers corner to give Stute a perfect start.
Jason McCartney skimmed the upright with a free kick for the Mallards whilst Stuart Hutchinson also went close when he fired into the side netting in what was a keenly contested first half.
Striker Sheridan, on as a first half substitute for the injured Steve Feeney, struck the post immediately after the interval for Ballinamallard, whilst Andy Crawford had a claim for a penalty turned down by referee Wesley Campbell, who awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.
Whitey Anderson’s side equalised however on 65 minutes. Crawford dispossessed full back Dean Jarvis and as his shot bounced off Stute keeper Corey Wilson, Sheridan was on hand for a simple tap in.
Tempers began to flare between the sides as the game heated up, but Wesley Campbell showed a cool head to keep all players on the pitch.
Both sides exchanged blows for the remainder of the game as the end to end action continued but it was perhaps the Mallards who could have stolen all three points on 86 minutes. Jason McCartney’s excellent whipped cross from the left was duly met by Mark Stafford, but Wilson was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line, as Ballinamallard remain unbeaten against Institute this season.