An early goal from Stephen O’Flynn gave Institute all 3 points against in-form Bangor at the venue formerly known as Clandeboye Park this afternoon. The eagerly anticipated match-up was dubbed in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph the biggest match of Championship 1 so far, and the visitors rose to the occasion to end Bangor’s 100% record on their new 3G surface.
Institute were able to name a full-strength team and started brightly. After just 10 minutes, a mix up in the Bangor defence allowed in-form striker Stephen O’Flynn to nick the ball off the home side’s stand-in keeper and chip the ball into the net. O’Flynn was clearly in a confident mood and soon after just missed with another chip.
Whether it was the 3G pitch or just a fluke, both sides suffered double injury blows in the first half. For Stute, Colm McLaughlin had to be replaced by Ryan Semple, who slotted in at right back, with Crown moving over to the left. Then, the one player Stute didn’t want to lose, O’Flynn, injured his groin five minutes before the interval. The loss of O’Flynn should have been softened by a two goal cushion just before half-time, but after Semple rolled back the years to surge down the right and get a great cross in, Parkhouse blazed over from a few yards out when it would have been easier to score.
The tide turned however with 20 minutes left when a Bangor player was shown a straight red card for kicking out at John Curran, just after they had seen off a rare Stute attack. The visitors then began to press for the killer second goal. Curry went on some good runs, and had a few opportunities to go on and take a shot himself, but the recent signing opted to pass instead and the chances went begging.
Bangor were still very much in the game when, 5 minutes from the end, former Stute captain Tommy Wray picked up two quick yellow cards for fouls on Michael McCrudden down the left. This just about ended their hopes of an equaliser, and the visitors held on to recorded a hugely important win. Stute now leapfrog Bangor and sit 3 points behind leaders Carrick who beat Limavady today, having played 1 game more than Stute and 2 more than Bangor. Dundela, whose match today was postponed are 4 points behind Stute in fourth but have 3 games in hand.
INSTITUTE: Doherty, Crown, P. McLaughlin, Curran, C. McLaughlin (Semple); McCauley, Henderson, Walsh, McCrudden; Parkhouse, O’Flynn (Curry).
Subs not used: Gallagher, O’Donnell, Varma.