New signings Paul McIntyre (ex-Chimney Corner) and Dan Ellis (ex-Islandmagee) starred in Ballynure Old Boys’ win against Amateur League outfit Lower Shankill.
Each bagged a brace, with Jackie Todd and Ricky Higgins completing the scoring in the 6-3 win at Antrim Forum grounds.
Manager Gary Burns travelled with only one substitute and a stand-in goalkeeper owing to several players being on holiday, but by the end of the first quarter his side was two up.
Todd, signed recently from Moyola, opened the scoring when he slipped his marker and drilled the ball into the top corner of the net, and moments later Ellis toe-poked the ball past the keeper following a goalmouth scramble.
The Belfast side pulled one back on the half-hour, but just before the break McIntyre restored ‘Nure’s two-goal lead with a left-foot volley from the edge of the box.
Shankill took control for 20 minutes at the start of the second half, scoring twice to make it 3-3, but almost immediately Ellis regained the lead, when he rounded two defenders before tucking the ball under the advancing keeper.
In the closing stages McIntyre doubled his tally when he dribbled through for a fine solo score, and it was left to Ricky Higgins to make it the half-dozen from close range.
“Shankill made us work hard for the win, and we had to move up a couple of gears in the final quarter to get the better of them,” reflected Burns. “We were several regulars short, and I was indebted to Johnny Robinson who volunteered to don the gloves in the absence of goalkeeper Paul Hughes,” he added.
Ballynure OB: Robinson; Penny, Leckey, G Curlett, M Curlett; McIlroy, M Duff (C), Todd, McIntyre; Higgins, Ellis. Sub: Forsythe.
“This weekend we have a clash with old rivals Raceview,” added Burns. “They were Ballymena Premier League champions on several occasions, and we are looking forward to renewing hostilities.”