A spectacular own goal gifted Ballyclare Comrades a Championship 1 point in Drumahoe.
Under pressure from Randal Reid, Institute defender Stephen O’Donnell’s attempted sliced clearance ballooned high in the air, and curled backwards into the net, leaving his goalkeeper completely stranded yards off his line.
The draw leaves Comrades in the bottom half of the table with eight points from one win and five draws.
Seeking back-to-back wins following last week’s result against Armagh City, manager David Dorrian made only one change, with Chris Getty returning following suspension to partner skipper Adam McCart at the heart of the defence. Curtis Woods moved to his favoured left back position to the exclusion of Anthony Hill.
An untidy first half dominated by defenders produced little of note, with two Gary Brown headers in the first quarter being the best Comrades could offer. Keeper Gregg Shannon’s only anxious moment came seconds before the break when he brilliantly turned over O’Donnell’s close range header.
Institute had looked the more likely to score and their efforts were rewarded six minutes into the second session when Gareth Brown’s snap-shot gave Shannon no chance.
Then came that unfortunate own goal equaliser in the 74th minute and even the introduction of fresh legs in the form of Johnny McClurg and Eddie Hill failed to unlock the resolute home defence.
In the final stages ‘Stute pressed for the winner with Friel heading wide, while Shannon again came to the rescue in injury time when he pulled off a stunning low save to deny McGinty.
Not an inspiring performance, but it was a precious point gained.
“I’m told that over the years the Riverside Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for Ballyclare Comrades and today we had to grind out a point on a hard bumpy surface,” saidd manager Dorrian. “Institute have been scoring freely of late, so I was pleased that we were able to curtail their strikers.”
Comrades: Shannon; Doherty, McCart (C), Getty, Woods; Brown (Trussell 61’), McIlveen, King (McClurg 65’), O’Hanlon; Simpson (E Hill 85’), Reid. Subs not used: A Hill, McQuitty.