Institute draw a blank at Ballyclare Comrades

Ballyclare Comrades 0, Institute 0

Institute's Liam Walsh missed a second half penalty at Dixon Park.

Institute will feel it was two points dropped rather than one gained at title chasing Ballyclare Comrades.

Midfielder Liam Walsh had a second half penalty saved by Comrades goalkeeper Richard Purcell, but in truth Stute's net-minder John Connolly also had to make a few top drawer saves, so all in all a draw was probably a fair result.

The Waterside men suffered a set-back just before kick-off when they found out that in-form striker Brendan McLaughlin had to miss the game through suspension, meaning that they could only manage to field four substitutes.

Comrades had a half chance in the early stages when Liam McKenna broke in behind the Stute defence and when he cut inside past Shaun Leppard, the left winger dragged his shot from a tight angle wide of Connolly's left hand post.

On 23 minutes Comrades goalkeeper Purcell was called into action twice in quick succession, as he did well to tip over Aaron McGurk's 25 yard free-kick and a minute later the ex-Tobermore man did superbly well to keep out Jamie Dunne's thunderous drive, diving low to his left to keep the goal bound effort out.

The visitors continued to be the better side in the opening half hour and Purcell had to make another stop, this time he easily gathered Oran Brogan's tame side footed strike.

Connolly had to make a big save minutes later as left-winger McKenna cut in from the right and let fly, but his effort was kept out by a diving Stute keeper.

Comrades were inches from breaking the deadlock on 40 minutes as Gary Donnelly's close range header was somehow kept out by a full stretched Connolly.

The Waterside men suffered an injury set-back early in the second half as skipper Aidan McCauley had to be replaced by Joshua Busteed.

Stute missed a golden chance to take the lead on 57 minutes when referee Ben McMaster rightfully pointed to the spot, after Curtis Woods had upended Jamie Dunne inside the box, but Liam Walsh's resulting spot kick to Purcell's right was parried away by the diving Comrades keeper.

Moments later Connolly had to make another top save to deny McKenna, as the lively left winger saw his right footed shot instinctively kept out by the former Ballinamallard United keeper.

The home side rightfully reduced to ten men on 71 minutes as Howard Beverland was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Walsh.

With an extra man Stute continued to push forward looking for the opening goal and they went close on 80 minutes but substitute Busteed saw his low 20 yard drive easily collected by Purcell.

Connolly had to make two outstanding saves in quick succession when firstly he kept out Ciaran Dobbin's shot, before somehow getting up and pushing away McKenna's close range follow-up shot.

In the closing stages Stute had a good chance to win the game, as Brogan's left wing cross found Aaron McGurk at the near post, but the striker's header failed to trouble Purcell and sailed wide.

Ballyclare Comrades: Richard Purcell, Curtis Woods, Liam McKenna, Christopher Ramsey, Liam Hassin, Ashton McDermott, Howard Beverland, Ian Fletcher, Andrew Mooney (Adam McCart 74), Ciaran Heggarty (Joe Tully 70), Gary Donnelly (Ciaran Dobbin 60).

Institute: John Connolly, Rhys McDermott, Joel Bradley Walsh, Shaun Leppard, Conor Quigley, Oran Brogan, Aidan McCauley (Joshua Busteed 54), Shaun Doherty, Jamie Dunne (Jack Millar 67), Liam Walsh (Patrick McLaughlin 84), Aaron McGurk.

Referee: Ben McMaster (Belfast).