A Josh McIlroy brace plus one from Ricky Higgins, ensured that Ballynure Old Boys returned from Desertmartin with three Ballymena Intermediate Division points on a 3-1 scoreline.
With Denver Leckey and skipper Michael Duff in control in the engine room, Gary Burns’ lads held most of the aces right from the start.
Strikers Ricky Higgins, McIlroy and left winger Paul McIntyre had shots saved in the opening half-hour.
Higgins eventually opened the scoring when his header from a Gareth Curlett free flashed into the roof of the net, and moments later the visitors were two up.
David Higgins beat three defenders down the right flank before linking with his brother, Ricky, who squared across the face of the goal for McIlroy to apply the finishing touch.
Except for a few scrambles in the box the hosts had little to offer and they were fortunate not to fall further behind when Ricky Higgins and McIlroy again tested the keeper.
Burns had to recruit Jonny Robinson and Anthony Hill from the bench when the Curlett brothers, Gareth and Mark, limped off injured, but play still continued to be mainly in home territory.
The pattern continued after the interval, but Desertmartin were thrown a lifeline in the 78th minute when they reduced the deficit with a penalty awarded for an alleged handling offence by Robinson.
Five minutes from time McIlroy made sure of the points when he won the one-against-one confrontation with the overworked keeper.
“We collected the points with something to spare, but we are still missing far too many chances,” Burns said. “We will have to be more clinical in front of goal in the run-in if we are to have three trophies on display at the annual dinner again this season.”
Ballynure OB: Stewart, Penny, M Leckey, G Curlett, M Curlett; D Higgins, Duff (C), D Leckey, McIntyre; R Higgins, McIlroy. Subs: Ellis, McIlwaine, Hill, Robinson.
These teams clash again this weekend when Ballynure will have home advantage in the quarter-final of the McReynolds Cup.
n Ballyclare Comrades Reserves’ seventh straight Ballymena Junior League Division 1 win cemented their pole position.
Two up at half time at Antrim Forum against Sport & Leisure Swifts II, Ronnie Burns’ lads added three more without reply in the second half to run out comprehensive 5-0 winners.
Man Utd Lotto
There were no winners in this week’s Larne ManUnited SC lotto. No one predicted the numbers 1, 2 and 20. Next week’s prize is £250. A club meeting is scheduled for Easter Monday (8pm).