Institute had a player sent off early in the second half, but within nine minutes a double strike installed them in the box-seat en route to an odd-goal-in-five win against Ballyclare Comrades.
Mark Wilkinson had given the Reds the lead at Drumahoe, but the home side levelled before the break and then surged in to that 3-1 lead, while Eddie Hill’s lads were restricted to a late Chris Trussell penalty.
Hill made several enforced changes with Chris Getty suspended and Gerard McAlea, Adam Gray and Johnny McClurg all injured, and they were replaced by Evan Forsythe, Simon McGowan, Andy Simms and Mark Wilkinson.
Denver Gage and Kyle Agnew also were missing, injured for the second week in succession, so it was a much-changed outfit that lined out against the Championship 1 leaders.
As early as the 18th minute Paddy Flood pulled off the most acrobatic save of the afternoon, when he managed to finger-tip a Parkhouse rocket over the bar.
After struggling to get out of their own half for the first quarter Comrades surged ahead against the trend of play in the 25th minute, when Wilkinson drilled the ball in to the roof of the net from close range, after the keeper had spilled Daniel Smith’s initial effort.
Eight minutes later ‘Stute were deservedly back in front, when Parkhouse was given too much space in the box and he made no mistake.
Seconds before the break only a timely challenge by impressive left back, Kyle Buckley, prevented O’Flynn from nosing his side ahead.
There was plenty of drama in the opening 10 minutes of the second session. Firstly, a home player was dismissed for an elbow offence; then the 10 men scored twice within two minutes through Curran and McCauley.
The Reds never recovered from this double-whammy, but they set up a nailbiting finish, when Trussell netted from the spot four minutes from time.
However there was no dramatic finish, with the home defence holding out to secure the three points that enhanced their pole position, a mere one point ahead of Carrick Rangers.
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood; Doherty, McCart, Forsythe, Buckley; Smith, Young, McGowan, Simms; Wilkinson, Trussell. Subs: McClurg for Forsythe 63, McAlea for Young 69, Gray for Wilkinson 75. Not used: Cooper, Rainey.