‘Stute were beaten 2-1 by Ballymena United after Robbie Hume’s 4th minute opener was ruled out by goals from David Munster and Alan Teggart.
Both of today’s teams had been struggling to find form, with Institute failing to win in 8, while the visitors had managed just 1 win in 12.
Those statistics did much to raise expectations heading into the game, each manager undoubtedly desperate to grab the three points on offer.
Early on it looked as if it was going to be Paul Kee’s afternoon when his team took the lead through a deflected finish from Robbie Hume on the edge of the area on the back of an assist from Lee Toland’s free-kick.
Things almost became even better for ‘Stute when Hume found himself in space again after being played through by Paul McVeigh but the outrushing Ballymena goalkeeper got to the ball first to clear it away.
Ballymena threatened when Darren Boyce managed to win possession from defender Stephen O’Donnell to break through on goal, but his shot past net-minded Martin Gallagher was headed over by captain Paddy McLaughlin.
Institute composed themselves and initiated a period of nice passing, Paul Kee’s tactics coming to light, however nothing came of their chances.
This wastefulness cost ‘Stute when on 24 minutes Ballymena, against the run of play, managed to score, Gawley’s corner poorly defended by Gallagher and Dean Curry, and centre-back David Munster was able to knock the ball into the top hand corner from well inside the box.
Things then went from bad to worse for Institute as referee Keith Kennedy controversially awarded United with a penalty, and Alan Teggart made no mistake from the spot.
The remainder of the first half faded away without a bang, with neither team able to break the other, and it finished with the scoreline locked at 2-1 to the visitors.
HT – Institute 1-2 Ballymena Utd
The second stage of the game was largely an uneventful one as each team failed to increase the game’s tally, and Institute had to accept defeat despite their best efforts.
It began poorly for the home side when the ill-stricken Martin Gallagher was forced to go off for loanee goalkeeper Eugene Ferry on 45 minutes.
The second half play was labelled as “scrappy” and “ugly” by onlookers, and in an attempt to freshen things up Kee took off defender McLaughlin for attacker Ronan Doherty.
This did little to improve his team’s performance, and the only note-worthy opportunity fell to Ballymena when Allan Jenkins burst in through the Stute defence, but his low, drilled shot towards Ferry’s bottom corner was well saved by the keeper.
A positive for the Sky Blues was their determination to keep fighting until the very end, but unfortunately their efforts were not repaid, as they pressed but could not outdo Ballymena.
The footballing battle was a stalemated one and the minutes ticked on with the second half remaining goalless, and the overall tie remaining at 2-1 to Ballymena.
This marks an important win for Glenn Ferguson and his team, while ‘Stute have to continue to work for a victory against Warrenpoint Town on Boxing Day.
FT – Institute 1-2 Ballymena Utd
After the game, Institute Manager Paul Kee said:
“In the first half we didn’t do enough, we scored a well-worked corner but we didn’t match their aggression or their direct play, they were first to the ball and were quicker to the ball. We were hesitant, and we let them come into the game.”
“The effort is there, we were good in the second half. We knew that they had played on Tuesday night and thought they would tire, but we didn’t do enough. We threw on some young players at the end which wasn’t fair on them, but it wasn’t enough.”
“They didn’t have to do a lot to win today, and we didn’t do enough. We have to work through this, it’s difficult, and it’s all about time and procedure, trying to get everyone right on the pitch and in training, and to get the mentality right – that’s the nature of the Premiership.”
“We have Forker and Scoltock missing, and we don’t have a lot of players to choose from in general, we need a striker but the players aren’t there so we have to work with some of our younger players at the minute. I’m out there looking for new additions.”
Institute: Marty Gallagher (45’), Stephen O’Donnell, Paddy McLaughlin (60’), Dean Curry, Graham Crown, Aaron Walsh, Stephen Curry, Lee Toland, Robbie Hume (74’), Paul McVeigh, Cormac Burke.
Subs: Eugene Ferry (45’), Ronan Doherty (60’), Jamie McIntyre (74’), Matty Young, Declan McKeever.
Ballymena: Stuart Addis, Tony Kane, David Munster, Johnny Taylor, Stephen McBride, Neal Gawley, Mark Surgeoner, Allan Jenkins, Alan Teggart (90’), Darren Boyce (87’), Matthew Tipton (67’)
Subs: Eoin Kane (90′), Mark McCullagh (87′), Matthew Ferguson (67′), Michael Ruddy, Matthew Shevlin.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)
This article is sponsored by Sooty Olive Restaurant, Spencer Road, Derry/Londonderry.
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