A Gary Brown double, following Chris Trussell’s opener, secured victory against Bangor and hoisted Ballyclare Comrades clear of the Championship 1 relegation zone and into the cauldron of a mid-table battle.
A mere five points separate Armagh City in third position from Annagh United in 12th, with Bangor’s defeat dropping them into the bottom four for the first time this season.
Trussell opened the scoring early on at Dixon Park but Stephen Curry ensured the teams turned round all square before Brown’s brace secured the 3-1 win.
Manager Stephen Hughes made two enforced changes with Brown returning from suspension to replace Michael Haskins who was unavailable, while skipper Adam McCart made an unscheduled appearance after Stuart McCullough failed a pre-match fitness test.
The Comrades drew first blood after only seven minutes when Trussell out-muscled his marker before firing past former team-mate Gregg Shannon from close range.
Having been under the cosh for the opening half-hour the Seasiders equalised rather against the trend of play when Curry blasted one from the edge of the box past Paddy Flood, who was relieved later to hear a Walsh effort crash against the post.
After the interval the Comrades switched to a 4-3-1-2 formation with Michael O’Hanlon moving forward to support twin strikers Trussell and Brown and this bore fruit immediately.
In the 49th minute Trussell created space for Brown to regain the lead with a shot into the bottom corner of the net and six minutes later Brown put the game to bed, when he reacted fastest in the goalmouth to flick the ball past Shannon.
In the final quarter only the brilliance of Shannon denied Trussell a hat-trick. First he dealt superbly with a full-blooded volley and later kept out a header from a Mark Shannon cross.
Comrades boss Stephen Hughes told the Times: “This was a deserved win. Things are looking up and we now have to see out the final month against Lurgan Celtic, Dergview and Institute to secure our Championship 1 status.”
Ballyclare: Flood; Woods, McCart (C), McQuitty, Shannon; O’Hanlon (Simpson 78), Dobbin, Johnstone, McClurg (Crowe 87); Brown, Trussell. Subs not used: McCauley, Getty, Hill.