Sky Blues find Higgins-Burns pairing too hot to handle

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Ballynure Old Boys are within touching distance of a place in the quarter-final of the McReynolds League Cup after seeing off Magherafelt Sky Blues.

The new Ricky Higgins-Ronnie Burns attacking partnership produced three of the goals, with impressive midfielder Nathan Gray getting the other in an emphatic 4-1 win in Magherafelt.

Three wins and a draw keep the villagers in pole position in their section, and with only one more fixture to complete the round of fixtures, Gary Burns’ lads are on course to secure a place in the knockout quarter-finals.

Higgins opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he reacted fastest when the home keeper dropped a cross from Barry Penny, but almost immediately the Blues were level when a deep throw-in caused chaos in Willie Lee’s goalmouth.

The hosts were mainly on the defensive, and really should have been further in arrears after Michael Duff and Burns spurned good scoring chances.

Seconds before the break Higgins was unfortunate when his volley beat the keeper, but rebounded off the underside of the bar to safety.

The Blues continued to fight a rearguard action in the third quarter, during which Duff’s header from a Ross McFall corner was blocked by the keeper, who later pulled off the best save of the game to deny Burns from another McFall pass.

In the 75th minute the ‘Nure lads regained the lead, when Burns netted from the spot after he had been felled in the box.

That ended home resistance, and in the closing stages Burns doubled his tally with a volley from the edge of the box after a McFall corner had been partially cleared.

Midfielder Gray completed the scoring when he skinned three opponents before drilling the ball in to the net from twenty yards.

Men of the Match: Mark Leckey and Nathan Gray.

“We were all over them, and with a little more composure in front of goal we could have doubled our score,” said chairman, Michael Graham.

Ballynure OB: Lee; Penny, Robinson, Leckey, G Curlett; Gray, Officer, Duff, McFall; Burns, R Higgins. Subs: Forsythe for Officer, McIlroy for Gray, D Higgins for McFall; not used Harbinson.