Ballyclare Comrades 6-1 Institute
Institute's miserable week continued, as they suffered their first defeat of the season, at fellow promotion hopefuls Ballyclare Comrades.
While the Drumahoe men will feel there was some questionable refereeing decisions from Ken Gibbons in the first half, in truth Clifford Adams side ran out deserved winners.
The Dixon Park men, despite falling a goal behind early on and missing a penalty, were always in control and on top after two quick-fire goals from Paul Maguire and Samuel McIlven gave them the lead at the break.
In left winger Stewart Nixon, Comrades had a player who tormented the 'Stute defence all night and capped off a man of the match display with a hat-trick.
Worryingly for 'Stute they seemed to throw in the towel and let their opponent's steam roll over them in the final 20 minutes.
Paddy McLaughlin's side got off to the perfect start as straight from the kick-off they won a corner and piled on the pressure before taking the lead on two minutes.
As Aaron Harkin's second right wing corner found an unmarked Caoimhin Bonner and the centre-back's diving header skipped off the wet surface and into the net.
The home side were awarded a penalty on nine minutes as Ryan Morrow was adjudged to have fouled Adam Gray inside the box and referee Gibbons harshly pointed to the spot.
However justice was done as Maguire's resulting spot-kick from 12 yards was superbly kept out by Marty Gallagher, as the 'Stute keeper dived to his left to parry the effort away.
On 17 minutes, Michael McCrudden went close to doubling the visitor's lead, but his stinging drive from Eamonn Seydak's throw-in, was well kept out by Comrades keeper Geoff McKinty.
Comrades levelled things on 27 minutes as Maguire made up for his penalty miss, by firing low into Gallagher's bottom right hand corner.
With their tails up the home side netted a second from the penalty spot two minutes later, after Maguire fell inside the box following the softest of touches from Bonner.
After all the 'Stute protests had been waved away, Comrades' McIlveen composed himself and blasted home the resulting penalty, low into the bottom left hand corner.
The home side had a good chance to increase their lead on 63 minutes but Maguire failed to test Gallagher and dragged his shot wide.
Minutes later Comrades added a third as they turned defence into attack when clearing their lines from a corner.
The ball was punted down field and Morrow, who was 'Stute's last defender, miss judged the ball and Nixon won possession on the half-way line, before running 20 yards and calmly rounding Gallagher and slotting home into the empty net.
The game was ended as a contest on 80 minutes as Nixon's inch perfect left wing cross found Thomas Robinson at the back post and he made no mistake, side footing home with a composed finish.
A minute later, 'Stute nearly netted a consolation goal but Robbie Hume's 20 yard drive was superbly saved by McKitty.
Moments later Nixon fired home his second on the night, after more good play by the home side cut open the now poor 'Stute back-line.
The rout came to an end in stoppage time as Nixon completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot, after Comrades were awarded their third penalty of the evening when Stephen Curry upended the winger inside the box.
Ballyclare Comrades: McKinty, Woods, Parker, Rodgers (McCart 86), Youle, McIlveen, Dobbin, Maguire, Johnston (Robinson 67), Gray (Mackie 78), Nixon.
Institute: Gallagher, Morrow (D Curry 72), Bonner, Scoltock, Seydak; Harkin (Jarvis 61), Grace, McCrudden; S Curry, Hume, Wilson (Pomeroy 78).
Referee: Mr Ken Gibbons.