A Gareth Curlett header almost certainly ensured that Ballynure Old Boys qualified for the knockout stages of the McReynolds League Cup.
The solitary goal that secured the win over Brantwood at Mossley on Saturday came on the half-hour, when the big central defender came forward to connect with Nathan Gray’s corner.
Earlier there had been chances at each end, with a Brantwood striker being denied by a last-ditch tackle by Mark Leckey, while a Ricky Higgins effort flashed in to the side-net from a narrow angle.
Darren Dempster in the Brantwood goal pulled off the best save of the afternoon to deny Mark Curlett after Burns and Andy Forsythe had worked the ball in to the penalty area.
The pressure eventually paid off with that Gareth Curlett goal, but approaching the interval the home defence was at full stretch, defending several corners, but they held out to turn around one up.
Brantwood really began to turn the screw during the third quarter and they had strong appeals for a penalty turned down as they continued to dominate possession.
After weathering the storm, Ballynure almost doubled the lead when Burns’ cheeky chip from outside the box almost caught the keeper off his line, with the ball landing on the top of the net.
“We were well on top and should have turned round two or three up,” said Ballynure manager Gary Burns, “but they came out strong in the second half and showed why they are the only unbeaten team in the Ballymena Premier League.
“In Darren Dempster they have the best goalkeeper in the league, and they will be hard to dislodge from pole position in the run-in.
“However, we are beginning to find top gear, now unbeaten in 10, and lying in second position in the table. We are still involved in a couple of cups, so we have a lot to play for in the weeks ahead.”
Ballynure OB: Lee; Robinson, Leckey, G Curlett, M Curlett; Gray, Duff, Forsythe, McFall; Higgins, Burns. Subs: McGreevy, McIlroy, Officer.
On Saturday Burns’ lads take on FC Ballynure in the quarter-final of the Crawford Cup.
n McReynolds League Cup: Newtowne eased to a 4-0 win at home to FC Ballynure.
Goals from Conor O’Hara (two), Billy Dolan and and Declan Logue secured the win.