Institute returned to the top of Championship 1 after a convincing 5-0 win over Donegal Celtic at Suffolk Road. With their closest rivals all having at least one game in hand, Stute knew that coming home from West Belfast without all 3 points wasn’t an option. Perhaps this pressure led to an edgy first half, though the visitors did take the lead 20 minutes in after Walsh’s re-taken free kick from the left was superbly dispatched by an arching header from centre half John Curran. In a more confident and free-flowing second half performance from the visitors, Curran could have added to his opener with a shot from the edge of the box which the keeper scooped onto the crossbar. Moments later, Robbie Hume, making a rare start in place of the unavailable O’Flynn, was put through and chipped the advancing keeper only to see the ball drop wide of the post. Hume wasn’t going to be denied for long however and 15 minutes into the half, Walsh played a superb through ball which allowed him to take a touch and finish from close range. Five minutes later, Darren McCauley sprung the offside trap to make it 3 and ensure the home side had no way back. On 68 minutes it was 4 as winger Stephen Curry raced clear and squared the ball for Hume who was left with an empty net. Curry was nearly on the scoresheet himself soon after, when he got a foot to a blocked shot from the impressive Ryan Varma, but saw his shot come back off the bar. Left back Darren McKeever completed the rout on 73 minutes when he broke clear down the left and slotted home. Hume then set up Varma who fired straight at the keeper before the striker was given two chances to claim a hat-trick. With 5 minutes to go the ball was whipped across the box but on the stretch from 5 yards out he could only direct his shot over the bar. Paul Kee then had the luxury of a triple substitution with Henderson, Colm McLaughlin and Stephen O’Donnell all given a run out in place of Paddy McLaughlin, Walsh and Parkhouse. Then at the death Hume had a chance to claim the match ball but put it just over the bar. The impressive win puts Stute top of the pile again, at least temporarily, and they will hope they can repeat today’s impressive performance against Harland & Wolff Welders and Carrick Rangers in two crunch away matches next Saturday and Easter Tuesday.
INSTITUTE: Doherty, Crown, P McLaughlin (C McLaughlin, 85), Curran, McKeever; McCauley, Varma, Walsh (Henderson, 85), Curry; Hume, Parkhouse (O’Donnell, 85).
Subs not used: Gallagher, McFadden.