Saturday’s eagerly-awaited Ballyclare Comrades versus PSNI Championship 1 relegation battle proved to be an anti-climax.
The match, which ended in a 1-0 victory for the Reds, will best be remembered for two incidents, with visiting goalkeeper David Harrison involved in both.
In the third minute he was left red-faced when Andrew Simpson’s looping header ended in the net for what proved to be the winner, but later he zoomed from zero to hero when he pulled off the most acrobatic save of the afternoon to deny Chris Trussell.
Otherwise there was little to get excited about, but Comrades fans filed out happy in the knowledge that the 1-0 win secured membership of the second tier for another season.
“It wasn’t a brilliant game, but this basement battle was all about a result, not performance,” said Reds’ manager David Dorrian.
“We started well and put them under pressure after getting that early goal, but for 20 minutes after the interval our defence was stretched. However, Andrew Doyle and Adam McCart dealt with everything thrown at them, and Paddy Flood didn’t have to make a save worthy of the name.”
Over in the PSNI dugout there were similar comments from former Comrades boss Jamesy Kirk.
“It was a terrible game,” he said. “The bumpy pitch made it almost impossible to put together a sequence of passes.
“We like to play it out from the back, but the Comrades midfielders had more bite and closed us down very quickly.”
Asked about survival prospects he offered, “We are a point ahead of Donegal Celtic who have one game to play that is winnable against Loughgall. We have two difficult assignments to complete our programme - against Carrick (Tuesday, April 21) and Larne.”
Meanwhile, back at Dixon Park, Dorrian confirmed that he is leaving all re-signing until after Saturday’s final fixture against Ards.
“Once we get the Ards game out of the way I hope that most of our players will be re-signing for another season,” he confirmed.
Asked about strengthening the squad he added: “I already have a promise from a former senior player to join us, and I have a few more targets in mind, so I hope that the team will have a new look come August.”
Meanwhile, honorary secretary, Don Horner, was honoured at the County Antrim FA annual dinner.
In recognition of the co-operation given to match officials over many years, he received a prestigious Playfair Award from the NE Referees’ Association.
“It was gratifying to receive the award, but I only did what I thought was my duty on match days,” said Don humbly.