A Bryansburn Rangers goal right at the death denied 18th Newtownabbey a deserved point from this 1c encounter at Cloyne Crescent.
After the 3-2 defeat, 18th manager Michael Jamison said: “It came from what our throw-in, only the referee reversed the decision claiming Neil Campbell was trying to make too much ground up the line – but he was only going to where the ball went out. It meant they caught us on the hop; we cleared the danger, but they scored from the corner. It was hard on the boys, because they really put a good shift in!”
The Monkstown side took the a first-half lead ironically from a quick throw from Ricky Moore which was knocked on by Aaron Knell to Simon Bennett whose cross was nodded in by Gary Kelly.
Newtownabbey went close again when Kelly this time appeared to be manhandled by the defender as he headed another corner just off target.
It was the visitors, however, who possessed the early second-half fire, catching 18th cold with an equaliser.
Bryansburn again turned up the heat, taking the lead with a well-worked goal.
Newtownabbey would surely have burned their boats but for a magnificent reflex save from Scott Hamilton - one which took on added significance when the Old Boys drew level - with Campbell Neill firing the ball into the top corner from the spot, after a none too obvious handling offence inside the box.
The Monkstown side could have won it but the well-placed Knell went for the spectacular, and didn’t really need to meet Neill’s measured cross first time, thereby scuffing the ball wide. Moore, too, stabbed one wide from just four yards out.
It looked thus the sides would have to settle for a point each, until 18th snatched all three; the forward getting in just before Gary Craig to finish off the corner, following that reversed throw-in decision.
On Saturday, 18th travel to second-placed Colin Valley.
18th Newtownabbey: Hamilton – R Moore, Craig, Cole, Campbell – Bennett (Letson), Kelly, Sellars (Torrens) – A Knell, Neill, McAllister. Sub (unused) Elliott.
Full round-up of local Amateur League action in this week’s Times. Available now.