INSTITUTE 1 LINFIELD 1
Paddy McLaughlin played a captain’s role as Institute secured a share of the spoils against Linfield in Drumahoe, the veteran diverting Cormac Burke’s 86th minute free-kick to the net.
And it was a deserved equaliser given the home side’s improved performance after the break.
In fact, Institute went so close to actually winning the game two minutes after their equaliser, teenage substitute, Ben Doherty, dragged his shot wide of the target.
It was an amazing turnaround and, no doubt, Institute will now put last weekend’s last minute winner against Cliftonville to the back of their minds.
The ‘Blues’ issued a statement of intent from the first whistle, their 4-3-3 formation always on the front foot at the Riverside Stadium.
However, while they did boss the ball, they failed to breach a hard-working home defence until the 27th minute.
Midfield playmaker, Stephen Lowry, forced Doherty into an excellent save after five minutes, the keeper driving to his left to parry the effort wide at the expense of a corner.
Five minutes later Ivan Sproule robbed ‘Stute defender, Mark Scoltock but the Linfield striker’s shot lacked power and Doherty gathered easily.
But the inevitable arrived on 27th minute when the “Blues” deservedly broke the deadlock.
Institute put up a much better effort after the break and they went so close to restoring equality on the hour.
Then came that 86th equaliser which raised the noise levels in Drumahoe with the final cheer of the afternoon directed towards an emotional keeper, Michael Doherty, who played his final game for the Drumahoe club having opted to join North-West neighbours, Coleraine.
Institute - Doherty; McLaughlin, Scoltock, Crown; Curry, Forker (Burke, 39), Walsh, McManus, McKeever (Doherty, 74), McCauley (McBride 75), O’Flynn.
Linfield - Tuffy; Hegarty, Haughey, Richards, Clarke; Lowry, Callagher (75), Burns; Miller, Thompson (Feeney, 67), Sproule.
Referee - Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).