AN ARMAGH City strike three minutes from time on Easter Tuesday brought down the curtain on a miserable holiday weekend for Ballyclare Comrades.
The loss to Lurgan Celtic on Saturday was bad enough, but the 1-0 defeat in Armagh added salt to the wound.
Manager Eddie Hill made several changes, with Chris Monteith and Evan Forsythe replacing Craig Reid and Chris Getty in defence, while Ricky Higgins and Gerard McAlea came in for Kyle Agnew and Adam Gray in midfield, but the newlook Reds got little change from a solid home defence.
Neither keeper had been tested in a drab first half, and the first scoring opportunity came in the 41st minute when Andrew Doyle blasted a free in to the wall, and when the ball ricocheted to Chris Shimmon he fired wide.
Seconds before the break, Shimmon was off target again when he fired wildly over after a Higgins cushion header set up the big striker.
Shimmon’s goal-a-game sequence had contributed significantly to the February and March stunning winning run, but he seemed to have left his shooting boots at home.
In the 52nd minute a misplaced clearance by home keeper Morgan landed at the former Bangor player’s feet 40 yards out, but his attempted lob over the stranded keeper in to the unguarded net drifted wide.
Moments later, Paddy Flood pulled off the best save of the evening when he acrobatically kept out a Hynds free that seemed destined for the top corner of the net.
In the closing stages, Armagh began to look sharper and only a superb tackle by Doyle foiled Cusack as he was about to pull the trigger.
Three minutes from time Armagh got the goal that decided the points, when a Hynds pin-point cross picked out Donnelly, who gave Flood no chance with a firm header from close range.
In added time, Shimmon eventually managed to beat Morgan, but his effort was hacked off the line by a defender.
Having dropped to third spot, Comrades will now look to garner full points from three home games in quick succession.
Ballyclare Comrades sponsored by solicitors Reid Black & Co: Flood; Monteith, Doyle, Forsythe, Buckley; Higgins (C), McAlea, McGowan, Simms; McClurg, Shimmon. Subs: Wilkinson for Higgins 68’, Earley for McGowan 76’, Brown for Monteith 89’, Getty, Reid.