Institute recovered from the crushing disappointment of missing out on promotion when ending their season on a high by lifting the Coca Cola Intermediate Cup at Mill Meadow, last night
Second half substitute, Darren McFadden netted the winning goal against Ards Rangers at the Castledawson venue with seven minutes remaining and it was a deserved victory for Paul Kee’s troops.
Institute had dominated possession throughout and ‘man of the match’, Michael McCrudden came close to opening the scoring when firing narrowly over the crossbar during the opening minutes.
‘Stute continued to dominate and Darren McCauley headed over at the midway point while Robbie Hume was unable to get a telling touch from McCauley’s cut-back inside the penalty area minutes later.
Ards were under real pressure and Hume came close once again when Dean Jarvis drilled the ball across the face of goal but the striker sent his shot wide.
Paul Kee’s men will have been frustrated not to have converted one of those chances before the interval but they failed to really test goalkeeper, David Ferguson and the game remained scoreless.
Ards improved at the start of the second half and Jonny Roy almost gave his side the lead but his lob rebounded back off the post.
McCrudden then had his effort cleared behind for a corner shortly afterwards as the game entered its final stages.
With 10 minutes remaining the Drumahoe men came within the width of the post to taking the lead following McFadden’s free-kick.
And three minutes later the ball broke kindly to McFadden following a free-kick and the striker gleefully slotted it into the net to secure the victory.
‘Stute romp to victory
Meanwhile, after losing out to Warrenpoint in the race for a place in today’s promotion/relegation play-off against Donegal Celtic, ‘Stute boss, Kee is hopeful he can keep hold of some of his key players so they can launch another bid for a return to the top flight next season.
Acknowledging that certain players may attract interest from other clubs in the close season, Kee believes that if he manages to maintain the services of the majority of his current squad then the Drumahoe men would have a ‘great chance’ of achieving promotion next year.
“We have four or five players who could play in the Premiership and if we can keep hold of them then we’ll have a chance of getting up next year,” said Kee. “And if we can add to that then we’d have a great chance.
“But at the end of the day I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he added. “I’m sure there will be clubs coming in and offering players more money than we can offer but we’ll see what happens.”
‘Stute registered their biggest win of the season against Carrick Rangers at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon but it was all in vain as rivals Warrenpoint secured victory over Limavady United to take second spot.
It was Carrick’s heaviest loss of the season and given that they finished in fifth spot and were also very much in the race for promotion up until the previous weekend, Kee was delighted with the performance from his players.
“I feel we’ve been fairly consistent this year while sticking to our theme of playing a constructive game rather than the typical brand of football which is played in this country - which is hoof it upfield and hope for the best.
“In fairness Carrick have had a tough run and I’m sure the last place they would have wanted to come was here.
“In hindsight the last six minutes of our game against Warrenpoint last week changed the dynamic of this one because while a lot of players last week were edgy and nervous they were fine this time because many of them thought the chance was gone. We hoped that Limavady would help us but it wasn’t to be.”
A brace of goals from the outstanding McCrudden and Hume and a Sean Roddy header proved the difference between the two sides on the day. McCrudden netted on 13 minutes with a low free kick from 20 yards before turning provider seven minutes later as his corner kick was powerfully headed into the net by Roddy.
Just 60 seconds later they added a third as Hume held off Carrick goalkeeper, Robert Currie before applying the finish after a poor Glenn Taggart back-pass.
Three minutes after the break Kee’s charges put the game beyond doubt as McCrudden tapped in after Parkhouse’s chip had hit the crossbar.
The hosts scored their fifth with seven minutes remaining as Hume got in on the act once again, meeting Ryan Semple’s cross with a diving header.