IT WAS the same old story for Institute caretaker boss, Alan Blair on Saturday as he watched his young side rue a litany of missed chances when succumbing to yet another heavy defeat, this time against title contenders Dergview at Castlederg.
The confusion surrounding the managerial role at the Riverside Stadium appears to be taking its toll on the players’ morale as their form continues to nose-dive.
Confidence is clearly at a low at the club judging by recent performances but stand-in boss, Blair remains frustrated at the fact his side can’t capitalise when dominating the play for long periods.
As was the case against Glebe Rangers the previous weekend, ‘Stute dominated possession in the opening half hour but couldn’t make that vital breakthrough.
And it took a ‘wonder-goal’ from Dergview frontman, Warren Mullen on 35 minutes to break the deadlock and ‘Stute failed to recover from that setback.
“It was a better performance than last week against Glebe,” said Blair. “Yes we had plenty of chances and for the opening 35 minutes we were well on top but when you’re struggling at the bottom of the table nothing seems to go your way.
“It was a wonder goal from their striker which knocked us back. At that stage we were on top and apparently he hit it with his weaker foot which just shows you that when you’re flying high at the top everything goes in your favour.
“Their second was a well-worked goal but it was the first which knocked us and the heads began to drop after that.
“We had our chances, Decky Divin hit the crossbar but we’re just not getting the luck. Even the goal we did score bounced off both posts before going in and I was thinking it was never going to go in for us.”
There’s no doubting that ‘Stute are in the relegation shake-up and unless the Drumahoe club can string together a number of victories over the next few weeks, Blair admits they will struggle to maintain their place in the Irish Championship.
“There’s no doubting that we’re in the mix at the bottom given the start to the season we had and the squad of players we have it was always going to take time to turn it around.
“But the young guys are going to have to find their feet fast. We’re just not getting the rub of the green. Training is going well but on matchdays it’s not going as well as we would like.
“It’s just one or two mistakes that we’re making and getting punished for them. We play Harland and Wolfe Welders on Saturday and they’re doing well at the top so it’s going to be tough.”
The result could have been so different had the visitors made the most of their chances in the opening stages, however a lack of bodies in the final third meant there was no one on hand to get that vital touch.
Adam Clarke created the opening shot on 15 minutes but his left-footed drive from the edge of the box flew well over the target.
A well delivered, in-swinging free-kick moments later by Ryan Semple only needed a touch from the unmarked Mark Nicell, but the midfielder failed to get his head to the ball and Dergview keeper, Chris Snow easily gathered the ball.
A clever ball over the top by Conor Lynch then released Declan Divin, but his cross-cum-shot, which had Snow beaten bounced back off the bar before Gareth Gallagher cleared the danger.
The visitors continued to push forward in search of the opening goal and ten minutes before the break McClean’s lay-off on the edge of the box to Clarke ended with the left winger’s snap-shot through a ruck of players well saved by Snow.
Those missed chances came back to haunt ’Stute as the home side broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion a minute later.
Striker, Mullen picked the ball 35 yards from goal and his powerful right-footed strike whistled past Alan Ryan and into the net.
The Co. Tyrone men doubled their lead just before the break when left-back John Carlin broke clear before his intelligent cut-back found an unmarked Johnny Lafferty and he calmly fired home past a hapless Ryan.
A lung-bursting run by Lafferty right at the start of the second half ended, with his curling effort, with his weaker right foot superbly saved by a fully stretched Ryan.
The home side added a third on 64 minutes after some poor goalkeeping by Ryan and Gallagher was on hand to powerfully head home Aaron Walsh’s left wing corner.
To their credit the Waterside men continued to push forward and they deservedly pulled one back in style on 76 minutes.
A flowing move ended with Nicell’s 25 yard strike hitting both posts before finding the back of Snow’s net.
The match was ended as a contest on 84 minutes when Aaron Arkinson unselfishly fed former ‘Stute man, Ryan Campbell, who at the third time of asking fired home from close range.
Dergview - Snow, McMenamin, J Carlin, Boyle, Gallagher, Burns, Arkinson, Walsh, Mullen, Campbell, Lafferty. Subs: Cashel for J Carlin (70); Lecky for Lafferty (78); H Carlin for McMenamin (81); McCashe & McCusker (not used).
Institute - Ryan, Crown, Wray, Browne, Taylor; Semple, McClean, Lynch, Nicell, Clarke; Divin. Subs: McCready for Clarke (56); S Curry & Mullan for Lynch & Divin (88); Smyth & D Curry (not used).
Referee - Mr. Tim Marshall (Enniskillen).