Title-chasing Ballynure chalk up 15th win on spin

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Strikes by Barry Penny, David Higgins and Josh McIlroy saw Ballynure Old Boys chalk up their 15th consecutive win and moved them a step closer to clinching the Ballymena Intermediate Division title.

Visitors Desertmartin rarely threatened at a windswept Mossley, where their late consolation strike prevented the whitewash in a 3-1 success for Gary Burns’ men.

The warning signs were there for Desertmartin as early as the second minute when David Higgins scuffed his shot after a fine build-up by Penny and Josh McIlroy.

With McIlroy starring on the right wing where he had the beating of his marker, ‘Nure were on top but failed to get anything from a series of corners.

On the half-hour they got the goal they deserved when the Higgins brothers, Ricky and David, swapped passes to set up Penny, who nodded home at the back post.

David Higgins was a constant threat and he was rewarded with a goal in first-half added time after a neat one-two with his brother had split the defence.

Against the elements, it was now a rearguard battle for ‘Nure and only a stunning diving one-handed save by Paul Hughes prevented Desertmartin from opening their account.

Hughes also cut out several crosses into the danger area as the visitors continued to attack, but with central defenders Mark Leckey and Andy Forsythe in top form, the visitors’ side of the scorecard remained blank.

The hosts had to rely on counter-attacks, but in one of them the impressive McIlroy increased the lead, when he curled the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Desertmartin, who are in third, grabbed a well-deserved goal eight minutes from time following a fluent move out of defence.

“We had to battle against the wind in the second half, but we collected the points with something to spare,” said Gary Burns.

“Our title aspirations were boosted when we learned that our main rivals, Newtowne, dropped two more points in a draw with Rathcoole.”

Ballynure have no fixture this weekend, but on March 14 they host Newtowne in what could be a title decider at Mossley.