Ballynure Old Boys’ winning streak is brought to an end

Ballynure Old Boys' manager Gary Burns.

Ballynure Old Boys' manager Gary Burns.

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Ballynure Old Boys’ 15-match winning streak came to an end on Saturday when they lost to main rivals Newtowne.

This Ballymena Intermediate League match of the day attracted a large crowd to Mossley, where the Limavady lads clinched a 2-1 win three minutes from time.

“Fair play to Newtowne, it was a deserved win,” conceded Ballynure manager, Gary Burns. “We were under the cosh in the second half when only several brilliant saves by Paul Hughes kept us in with a chance, but when they scored their second goal we were dead on our feet and had nothing left to give.”

Newtowne’s 3-5-2 formation dominated against the locals’ 4-4-2 line-up in the opening quarter, prompting manager Burns to move Andy Forsythe forward to snuff out the threat of the visitors’ extra man in the engine room and it paid dividends.

In the 25th minute full-back, Barry Penny, advanced into the box where he was brought down and Mark Leckey stepped up to dispatch the resultant penalty well beyond the reach of the keeper.

The Limavady lads responded with a series of attacks in which Hughes twice denied their strikers with diving saves, but he had to retrieve the ball from the net in the 40th minute when a quickly taken free-kick left him exposed.

Hughes was again the hero seconds before the break, when he saved a penalty at the base of the post following a Penny foul.

Newtowne dominated for most of the second session with Ballynure’s best effort ending with Ricky Higgins firing wide in a counter-attack after fine build-up involving Josh McIlroy and Mark Curlett.

Hughes continued to star in the home goal, but he had to admit defeat in the 87th minute when an unmarked player at the back post touched in the winner.

“That ended our long winning run, but we will have to dust ourselves down and get on with it. We are still 12 points clear at the top of the table, and are looking forward to two cup semi-finals and a quarter-final in a busy end to the season,” added Burns.

On Saturday Ballynure will be at Allen Park to take on Chimney Corner in the quarter-final of the O’Gorman Cup.