Institute have lost 2-1 to league rivals Dungannon Swifts despite an heroic performance at the Riverside Stadium, with Robbie Hume’s second half goal not being enough to make up for Gary Liggett’s early brace.
The first real chance fell to ‘Stute when Declan McKeever launched at goal towards the bottom, right corner from 25 yards out, his shot deflected off Darren McFadden’s heels and flickered narrowly wide of Andy Coleman’s post.
After a few hard tackles were shared, it became evermore clear that this was a heated fray between two opposing sides desperate to claw their way to safety in the league table.
On 14 minutes Swifts had a strong effort of their own when Gary Liggett, under pressure from Duwayne McManus, managed to pull a quick thinking shot on the turn from the edge of the area, and Saul Deeney needed to show off good reflexes to get down and prevent it from squeezing in.
The Sky Blues responded with a half-chance of their own, Robbie Hume whipping in a corner, which found the head of Stephen O’Donnell unmarked, however the defender was unable to steer the ball in as it floated wide.
Where Institute wasted their opportunity from a set piece, Rodney McAree‘s men made sure to make no mistake with their own corner threat just seconds later. Gary Liggett converted a searching corner from Matt Hazley with his head after 17 minutes had gone.
As the half-hour mark approached, Dungannon increased their lead by one as Liggett grabbed his second of the evening. Full-Back Kris Lowe directed a long ball up the field and Liggett took the ball down well, shrugging off Stephen Curry easily, before blasting past Saul Deeney from just inside the box.
The Drumahoe outfit attempted to keep themselves in contention by fighting for a late second half goal, but unfortunately they were unable to do so, with their best chance falling again to O’Donnell on the back of a great pass by Dean Curry, but the centre-half could only knock the ball wide with his low, drilled shot.
HT: Institute 0-2 Dungannon Swifts
Paul Kee’s men entered the second stage hoping that this would prove to be a game of two halves, and this became a real possibility when Stephen Curry found Robbie Hume out wide with a looping cross, Hume took it down well and beat off Douglas Wilson before whacking the ball in past the keeper from a narrow angle.
‘Stute continued to attack, and appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Andrew Davey when Darren McFadden was taken down by Swifts net-minder Andy Coleman as the big centre-forward attempted to connect with a cross from Stephen Curry.
The home team’s offensive approach caused considerable distress for Dungannon, and on 67 minutes Stephen Curry got involved in yet another goal-scoring opportunity. Newbie left-back Peter Bradley found Curry up the left flank, and he pulled the ball into the box before dispatching his shot but it was well saved off Coleman’s legs.
Institute truly dominated the second half, with Robbie Hume’s goal seeming to inspire greater motivation to search for the equaliser. Another close call for the Dungannon defence came when a corner from Hume found the head of stand-in skipper Graeme Crown, but Crown’s header bounced back off the crossbar.
Substitute Michael McCrudden caused ‘Stute fans throughout the Riverside Stadium to bite their nails when his self-created chance drifted narrowly wide. The ex-Newcastle starlet took the ball around several Swifts defenders before unloading a strike across goal, but it went inches wide.
Darren McFadden and Stephen Curry appeared lively as the minutes ticked on, and in stoppage time Duwayne McManus attempted to achieve wonders with a 30-yard strike but unfortunately it flew well over the goal frame.
‘Stute must be credited for their fighting spirit and for their refusal to give in, but inevitably it wasn’t to be for the Waterside team once more, as they fell to their 14th consecutive league defeat.
FT: Institute 1-2 Dungannon Swifts
Institute: Saul Deeney, Graeme Crown (c), Peter Bradley (70′), Stephen O’Donnell, Dean Curry, Aaron Walsh, Duwayne McManus, Declan McKeever, Stephen Curry, Darren McFadden, Robbie Hume.
Subs: Marty Gallagher, Mark Scoltock, Cormac Burke, Mark Forker, Michael McCrudden (70′).
Dungannon: Andy Coleman, Kris Lowe , Fra Brennan, David Armstrong, Douglas Wilson, David McCullough, Ryan Harpur (c), Grant Hutchinson, Matt Hazley, Gary Liggett (65′), Jamie Douglas (53′).
Subs: Terry Fitzpatrick (53′), Stefan Lavery, Jamie Glackin, Jareth O’Rourke, Connor Mullan (65′).
Referee: Andrew Davey.