DESPITE the inclusion of three new signings, Ballynure Old Boys were thrashed 5-1 by Magherafelt Sky Blues in a Ballymena Intermediate Division fixture on Saturday.
Having recruited Stevie McDowell from Ballyclare Comrades and Gareth Curlett and David Officer, manager Gary Burns must have travelled to Magherafelt full of confidence, but his lads failed to perform on the day.
Conceding soft goals seem to be the villagers’ Achilles heel this season, and once again defensive frailties were exposed.
Blues opened the scoring when one of their strikers managed to squeeze through between the Curlett brothers, Gareth and Mark, but almost immediately parity was restored when Ronnie Burns netted from the spot, after McDowell had been up-ended in the box.
That was as good as it got for the visitors who fell behind seconds before the break when the locals beat Lee Singleton in a quick counter-attack.
Ballynure had their best spell during the third quarter, but Mark Leckey uncharacteristically failed in front of a gaping goal, while the impressive Burns had one effort brilliantly saved by the keeper.
On the hour all hopes of a ‘Nure revival disappeared when Singleton was beaten with a low, long-range shot, and thereafter Blues added two more without reply to complete the rout.
Club president, Michael Graham, said: “After a brilliant start to the season we have gone off the boil, and, once again, questions must be asked about our defending.
“I had hoped that the infusion of new talent during the January transfer window would have boosted our title challenge, but it didn’t happen.
“However, the lads will have the opportunity to prove that this defeat was a one-off when they entertain the Sky Blues in the return fixture on Saturday afternoon.”
Ballynure OB: Singleton; Penny, Gibson, G Curlett, M Curlett; Middleton, Leckey, Duff, McGreevy; Burns, McDowell. Subs: Officer, Robinson, McIlroy.