Eighteenth Newtownabbey Old Boys came from behind three times to claim a 4-3 win over Newington Rangers in Saturday’s 1C derby.
The victory also takes 18th up to second place in the table, although manager Garry Campbell admitted: “Nobody is going to get carried away. We won’t stay there and we’re only there because we’ve played more games than some of the teams below us – but it does show that we’re heading in the right direction. And when you think of some of the silly points we’ve thrown away this season, we could have been up there challenging for promotion.
“This one was tough enough. Newington were a lot better than they were when we won 3-0 down there in August. When they went in front the first couple of times, I wasn’t that worried, but then when they went 3-2 up, I thought it was going to be one of those days. But we showed good character to come back.”
With Davy Rollo absent, assistant Alan Hughes was in charge of the visitors. He said: “I can never remember, in all my days in football, losing the lead three times – and most times they just bounced back nearly straight away.
“But we’ve nothing to play for, we’re preparing for next season by trying players in different positions, and here we moved from our regular 4-4-2 to 4-5-1.”
Newington opened the scoring on 20 minutes when their ‘lone Ranger’ up front, Martyn Stirling, finished off an Adam McGivern cross.
Newtownabbey, however, redressed the balance just before the break, with Jackie Moore showing neat control before slamming the ball past keeper Brendan Quinn.
Early in the second session Adam Glover ought to have had the Larne boys in front, screwing the ball wide from just a few yards out, but it didn’t seem quite so significant with McGivern running across the box to finish off a Paul Thompson free-kick.
Newington’s lead, however, was shortlived, with 18th bouncing back with a penalty, cracked home by Ricky Moore after Terry Lyness was nudged by Jamie Stirling inside the box.
Rangers took the lead for the third time with Glover making amends for that earlier miss, neatly lofting the ball over keeper Scott Hamilton.
Once more, however, Newtownabbey bounced right back – Paul Harper directing Dee Hunter’s long throw into the far corner of the net.
Eight minutes from time, though, there was a variation to the script, with 18th nosing ahead for the first time in the match; Ricky Moore setting up a Steven Finlay cross for Jackie Moore to thump home what turned out to be the winner.