INSTITUTE have gained a psychological advantage in the race to win the Championship One title according to team boss, Paul Kee.
And having successfully backed up the previous weekend’s slender victory over Bangor, Saturday’s win over bogey side, Lisburn Distillery, was warmly welcomed by the Drumahoe man.
The fact that the men from the Riverside Stadium have climbed onto the summit on goal difference, is significant with eight games to go and Kee certainly didn’t lose sight of that fact.
After what had been a workmanlike performance, Institute, without the services of their free-scoring marksman, Stephen O’Flynn, who missed the game due to injury, dug in well and, to be fair, battled hard for the result with Kee regularly praising his troops for their honest endeavour.
“We’re capable of producing better performances, but the players did dig this one out and I’m delighted as Distillery have been our bogey side this season,” he said.
“We drew with them at Ballyskeagh before they travelled up here to knock us out of the Irish Cup which was disapointing at the time.
“We found it difficult in those two matches and the same situation applied in this game,” he added.
And with the winning goal arriving shortly after a 61st minute substitution, Kee also agreed that the switch helped his side move into the driving seat at just the right time.
“Stephen Curry did really well for us and we needed the effort he put in. He was lively and his introduction did the trick for us. With our top scorer, Stephen O’Flynn, not involved due to injury, it makes this win all the more important.”
With Dundela having defeated Carrick Rangers 1-0 last weekend, Institute moved onto the summit of the table on goal difference, a significant boost for the powers that be in Drumahoe.
“We recorded a great win last week at Bangor but that victory would have meant nothing had we not won this game, so it’s a great boost and it’s vitally important that we maintain the momentum with eight games remaining,” he concluded.
‘STUTE finishing STRONGly in race for promotion
The promotion push, therefore, is now back on track and while the home performance on Saturday will not be remembered for the overall quality of the play, it was certainly welcomed by the home dugout.
And the timely introduction of winger, Curry, cannot be taken for granted either.
The former Newbuildings player brought something different to the table and his effort managed to reap handsome dividends as it was his goal sent Institute back to the top of the table.
Kee’s troops had struck the opening blow in the 18th minute when Declan McKeever sent Darren McFadden scampering clear and the unselfish striker set-up the unmarked Michael McCrudden who drove the ball home with aplomb from 14 yards.
However, the “whites” equalised within five minutes, ‘Stute keeper, Michael Doherty caught out at the back post.
Kris Pike curled a left-footed free-kick high into the danger area, the cross-cum-shot creeping into the net.
And Institute could have found themselves in arrears just before half-time but Stephen Doyle dragged his shot wide of the post when well placed.
Six minutes into the second half Distillery really should have moved into the driving seat when Nathan McConnell headed wide from just five yards with the goal at his mercy.
‘Stute missed a great chance in the 57th minute when Paddy McLaughlin thumped a high ball forward and while McFadden gained possession, his attempted lob dropped wide of the target.
In the 66th minute substitute, Stephen Curry, justified his introduction when he stooped to head home McCrudden’s perfect cross after Stephen Parkhouse had sent the winger on his way.
INSTITUTE - Doherty; Crown, McLaughlin, Curran, McKeever; McCauley, Walsh, Henderson, McCrudden, McFadden (Curry, 61), Parkhouse, Subs. not used: Varma, Semple, O’Donnell and Gallagher.
LISBURN DISTILLERY - McBride, Alderdice, Nixon, Kingsberry, Pike, McConville (Wright, 77), Upton, Morton, O’Connor, McConnell (Withers, 84), Doyle. Sub. not used Wilson.