Institute miss chance to secure win at Ballymena United

Institute's Joe McCready netted from the penalty spot in the first half at the Showgrounds.
Institute's Joe McCready netted from the penalty spot in the first half at the Showgrounds.
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Ballymena United 1, Institute 1

Institute will certainly feel it was two points dropped rather than one gained, as they created a host of chances, against a disappointing Ballymena United side.

Sean Connor's men had a host of openings, but a combination of some top saves from Ross Glendinning and a lack of composure denied them securing the points at the Showgrounds.

The visitor's should in truth have been further ahead at the break, as they were well on top in the opening 45 minutes, but only had Joe McCready's penalty to show for their dominance.

Unfortunately goalkeeping Rory Brown gave away a poor penalty early in the second half, which meant the Braidmen came more into the contest and had their chances themselves with Adam Lecky going close and Shane McGinty was a crossbar width away from scoring the winner, against his old club.

The share of the spoils and overall performance by United didn't go down well with some sections of supporters, who vented their anger at the full-time whistle.

United brought back goalkeeper Glendinning for today's encounter, as David Jeffrey made one change from their side which defeated H&W Welders in the County Antrim Shield in mid-week.

As for the visitors they made two changes to their team which loss to champions Linfield last week, with Shane McNamee and Evan Tweed replacing Jack Bradley, who dropped to the bench and the suspended Ryan Morrow.

United skipper Jim Ervin had the first effort on target on 14 minutes, but his long range strike was well gathered by 'Stute keeper Brown.

Institute went close themselves minutes later as Joe McCready's 25 yard free-kick was turned around the post by a diving Glendinning.

From Tweed's resulting right wing corner saw somewhat of a pinball scramble inside the United six yard box, but centre-back Conor Tourish, saw his header cleared off the line by Andrew Burns.

The visitors rightfully were awarded a penalty on 29 minutes as Ervin booted Gareth Brown inside the box, referee Evan Boyce had no hesitation pointing to the spot and McCready, coolly slotted home the resulting spot-kick, rolling the ball into Glendinning's bottom right hand corner.

Glendinning had to make a top draw save on 40 minutes, as Colm McLaughlin's well his drive, which fizzed through a host of players, was superbly parried away for a corner by the United keeper.

Two minutes later a fantastic lung bursting run by Gareth Brown, which saw him run some 60 yards, before seeing his right footed strike inside the box, brilliantly kept out by Glendinning.

United were gifted a way back into the game on 50 minutes after a goalkeeping error by Rory Brown.

Graham Crown miss controlled inside the box and the loose ball was fumbled by the 'Stute net-minder into Lecky's path inside the six yard box and just as the striker was about to put the ball into the empty net, he was upended by Brown.

Referee Boyce rightfully pointed to the spot and Andrew McGrory made no mistake from 12 yards, drilling the ball straight down the middle of the goal.

The visitors had strong claims for a penalty moments later as Gareth Brown broke the offside trap, before he looked to have been brought down inside the box by Jonathan Addis, but the referee waved play-on, much to 'Stute's frustration.

Just before the hour mark Rory Brown made up for his error, when a full stretch he did well to kept out Lecky's powerful header.

A fantastic passing move by the visitors on 81 minutes ended with McCready's clever pass releasing Tourish, but the big defender's angled drive from the right hand edge of the box, flashed just over the bar.

Moments later McCready was inches away from scoring a stunning second goal, as his 20 yard strike, which was destined for the top corner, was tipped over by a fully stretched Glendinning.

The woodwork saved 'Stute on 88 minutes as Ross Lavery's left wing cross found McGinty and his fantastic left foot volley from 12 yards, which had Brown beaten, rattled the crossbar.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, Erin, Burns, Addis; McGrory, McGinty, Winchester McCullough; Carville (A Kane 76), Lecky, K Kane (Lavery 62).

Institute: R Brown, Tourish, D Curry, McLaughlin; Tweed (Bradley 84), Crown, McCauley, Grace, McNamee (McIntyre 69), McCready, G Brown (McGurk 82).

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).