The first-team visited the Ballymena Showgrounds last night in order to face-off against Glenn Ferguson’s Ballymena United, who have been staging a title challenge in the NIFL Premiership so far this season.
In a close-fought encounter, Institute edged the play in the opening minutes, talisman Stephen O’Flynn knocking the home team into the lead with a tap-in after just 90 seconds, after capitalising on a save from the Ballymena net-minder after a good effort from Darren McFadden.
Ballymena quickly composed themselves however, and on 26 minutes grabbed an equaliser courtesy of a wonderful strike from Adam Teggart which left debutant goalkeeper Eugene Ferry with no chance.
The Sky Blues threatened the Ballymena goal throughout the second half, and generally dominated the flow of play from this point on, McFadden coming close to increasing the scoreline for his team on a number of occasions.
However, on 65 minutes United were awarded a remarkably dubious penalty decision, with Stephen Curry’s challenge appearing to have been made well-outside the box, but the referee stuck to his gut and Teggart finished from the spot to put Ballymena in front.
‘Stute continued to fight right until the final whistle, and almost managed to level with a series of potential chances, but overall they could not find the back of the net and the United defence ultimately held out well.
Institute now host Glenavon on Saturday in a tie that will test Stute’s abiltiy to bounce back after only their second defeat this season.
Ballymena United: Nelson, McCullagh, Munster, Taylor, McBride, Kane (Boyce 66), Taggart, Surgenor (McCaul 73), Teggart, Tipton, Cushley (Ruddy 79).
Institute: Ferry, McLaughlin, Scoltock, Crown; Curry, Forker (Doherty 66), Walsh, McKeever; Armstrong (Henderson 66), O’Flynn, McFadden (Hume 79).