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Ballyclare Comrades 1-2 Institute

Institute secured a vital three against fellow relegation strugglers Ballyclare Comrades..

The game started, as it was to continue, with both sides playing lively attacking football belying their lowly league positions. It was the visitors however who were to have the best of the first half chances.

The home side had a lucky escape in the 8th minute. A corner was not cleared from the box and fell to McIntyre who shot through a crowded box from 16 yards, his effort coming back of the base of the post.

Comrades were also looking lively going forward and in the 10th minute a neat build up involving a quick interchange of passes between Scott Irvine and Eddie Hill just outside the box, ended with Mark McClelland being put through, bursting into the box, but his effort from 7 yards was easily blocked by keeper Ryan.

Institute continued to unsettle the Comrades defence and had a clear-cut chance to take the lead in the 13th minute when McGrinder burst past his marker to fire a shot from 12 yards, which was kept out by a superb save from the out-rushing Paddy Flood.

It was end to end stuff at this stage and a minute later it was the Institute keeper who was tested when Keith Armstrong did well, cutting in from the right and firing in a cross/shot, which from 16 yards, which Ryan had to be alert to turn wide of the post.

The lively visitors were again unlucky in the 21st minute when Kelly did well to cleverly beat Danny Johnson on the left wing and then surge into the box to fire in a shot from 14 yards, which came back off the bar.

Institute could have felt unlucky to have been twice denied by the woodwork, but it was Comrades, also playing impressively, who took the lead in the 35th minute. Andrew Simms did very well to beat a couple of defenders and then find Keith Armstrong with a ball into the box. Armstrong then turned to fire against the post from 13 yards. However the ball rebounded kindly for Comrades straight to Eddie Hill, who finished from close range into an unguarded net.

Comrades went into half-time with a one goal advantage and started the second half in confident fashion, looking as if they could well go on and seal a vital victory. However, in the 51st minute, in a pivotal moment, the game swung towards the visitors, when a robust challenge involving Scott Irvine and opposition midfielder McClean ended up with Irvine receiving a deserved straight red card.

The ten men of the home side continued to work hard and never looked like being overrun. However, their attacking momentum was blunted by their reduced numbers. 

The visitors now pressed strongly for an equaliser, but Comrades’ defence stood up well and chances were kept very much to a minimum for the first portion of the half.

However, it was to be poor marking at corners which was to prove to be Comrades downfall and it was certainly the case with the equaliser on 70 minutes. A corner was played in from the left and substitute McShane was left on his own to head powerfully in the net from 8 yards.

Four minutes later, Comrades came close regaining the lead when the impressive Philip Logue crossed from the left and a Mark McClelland glancing header from 7 yards went just wide of the post.

Institute almost went ahead in the 77th minute when a long ball eluded the home defence and McIntyre latched onto it, rounding Paddy Flood, but then being denied by a superb tackle from David Hume, before he could fire into the empty net.

The pressure from the visitors grew as the match entered its latter stages. In the 83rd minute Paddy Flood could not hold a powerful shot from 20 yards from McCready and the ball had to be hacked clear. Then, two minutes later, the woodwork again saved Comrades when a long throw into the box was headed against the bar from 8 yards by McGrinder.

Just as it looked as if Comrades would hang on for a point, Institute grabbed the winner in the 88th minute. Another corner from the left found Comrades’ marking wanting and Joe McCready was able to head in from 6 yards out at the near post area.

A vital three points for the Riverside men, Ballymoney United up next!

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