Belfast-giants Glentoran made the short journey down to the Riverside Stadium today in order to take on Paul Kee’s Institute team, who have been flying high in the Premiership so far since making their return to the top-flight this season.
The opening spell began excitingly, with the ball flowing well throughout the pitch, and the crowd at each end added to the anticipation of this encounter – with yet another good turnout being recorded in Drumahoe this weekend.
In the early stages Glentoran caused a few problems for Stute’s usual defensive trio of Paddy McLaughlin, Mark Scoltock, and Graham Crown – and with one great chance, net-minder Eugene Ferry was left feeling relieved when the ball bounced back off the woodwork.
It was the Sky Blues, however, who proved the more clinical of the two, despite the Glens edging the opening play slightly in the first third, and on 31 minutes former Northampton Town starlet Thomas McBride finished well to give his side the lead on the back of a good move from Stephen Curry.
Both teams continued to fight on as the first-half faded out, but Stute held their own and maintained their well-earned lead with a routinely consistent defensive display.
As the game reinitiated, tensions were raised after a series of tit-for-tat challenges left players in both shirts frustrated – and on 54 minutes Mark Scoltock was sent off for the home team in a controversial decision for an ‘off-the-ball’ incident.
This left Stute a man down, and increased the pressure being thrown upon them – but still, they continued to deny the visitors from taking advantage of their extra man, and even created a few counterattacks which threatened Aaron Hogg in goals for the Glens.
Glentoran continued to work the Londonderry outlet late on, with one promising move resulting in substitute Willie Garrett heading his effort against the crossbar, before Eugene Ferry was called into action to prevent the rebound from nestling into the back of the net.
Despite this lucky escape, it wasn’t to be for Stute on this occasion, and in line with the run of play, on 85 minutes, Curtis Allen knocked the ball into the bottom, left corner of Ferry’s goal, to grab an equaliser in front of the Billy Henderson Stand, to the elation of the hefty away supportbase.
After the match, Andrew Russell of the club committee had the following to say on the club’s performance:
“It showed our continued progression from last season, it was a good performance, and we were unlucky not to get the win in the end. ”
“The fact that we’re disappointed with results like this one against bigger clubs like Glentoran shows that we’re looking to push on to challenge for the top six.”
“First and foremost though, we have to ensure that through continued good performances we get the required points to ensure that we maintain our Premiership status for next term.”