Lurgan must win their last two Ulster Bank Premier League matches to stand any chance of remaining in the top flight.
Stephen Johnston’s men aren’t quite through the relegation trapdoor just yet, but barring an unlikely turnaround they can starting planning for trips to the likes of Dundrum and Templepatrick in 2014.
Defiant, dogged and determined in their first season back in the top flight since 2010, Saturday’s home defeat to Instonians was probably the first day when Lurgan looked to have accepted a return to Section One.
Three victories in their first six matches ought to have been a platform for survival, but thereafter they have rather lost their way, hamstrung by the unavailability of pivotal players at key times, and fatally damaged by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against CIYMS last month.
Carleon Brome, Instonians’ West Indian professional, plundered a century from 127 balls at Pollock Park, hitting 13 fours and a six as he added 135 for the second wicket with Neil Russell (72) as Inst took full advantage of being put in. Russell struck six fours and three sixes before Andrew White put the icing on the cake, hitting an unbeaten 62 from just 43 balls, including seven fours and a six as Inst piled up 294 for five.
Lurgan’s reply was soon in tatters as Eugene Moleon took four for 20. Peter Maxwell struck five boundaries in a defiant 69 but the home side were dismissed for 174.
Their only consolation was crushing defeats for CIYMS and Ballymena. Jacob Mulder took a hat-trick and Trevor Britton five for 22 as CI bowled out North Down for just 150 on a spin-friendly surface at The Green.
CI got to 38 for one in reply before experiencing one of the great batting collapses, losing their last nine wickets for 14 runs to plummet to 52 all out.
North Down used just two bowlers, with Tim Ley claiming six for 24 and James Cameron-Dow, the left-arm spinner, three for 23.
Nigel Jones struck a brilliant 132 from 134 balls, including 11 fours and four sixes, as CSNI thrashed Ballymena by 144 runs at Eaton Park. Andrew Cowden added 56 in a total of 255 for four.
Allen Coulter then took three for 27 as Ballymena were routed for just 111.
CI and Ballymena both retain breathing space. Run-rate is used to decided the sole relegation place should two teams be level on points at the end of the season. Lurgan are well adrift of both so they must beat Civil Service North and Waringstown to stand any chance of survival.
In Saturday’s mid-table clash at Wallace Park Waringstown saw off Lisburn.
Adam Dennison hit a maiden senior half-century and Greg Thompson made 49 against his former club as Waringstown posted 193 all out.
Darryl Brown claimed six for 29 for the home side but the South African professional’s 29 was their top score with the bat as Kyle McCallan took four for 11 in a total of 105 all out.