Ballymena United 2, Institute 1
INSTITUTE were denied a share of the spoils against high flying Ballymena United at the Showgrounds following a controversial penalty decision in the second half of last night’s Irish Premiership clash.
The Drumahoe men got off to the perfect start to the game as in-form striker, Stephen O’Flynn netted his fourth goal of the season after just 90 seconds.
However, Alan Teggart scored twice - including the winner from the penalty spot - as Glenn Ferguson’s side overcame the stubborn resistance of the newly promoted side to capture top spot.
‘Stute centre-half, Mark Scoltock was close to the action when referee, Keith Kennedy awarded the ‘Braidmen’ a spot-kick on the hour mark after Stephen Curry appeared to push Stephen McBride.
That incident took place at least ‘three yards outside the penalty area’ according to the ‘Stute defender and he felt his side were denied a credible draw by a poor decision.
“It’s really disappointing,” said the Top of the Hill man. “I was pretty close and it looked to be at least three yards outside the box.
“So it’s sickening to be honest especially after playing so well in the game.”
Scoltock refused to dwell on the incident, opting to take the positives from an encouraging performance as they prepare to entertain Glenavon this Saturday at the Riverside Stadium.
“Ballymena are top of the league so after the first six games of the season everyone in the squad is becoming more and more confident because we know that there’s nobody that we can’t challenge with.
“And we can be confident coming up against any team. We’ve got Glenavon on Saturday and we just have to keep trying to carry on playing the way we have been.
“Everyone’s disappointed and it’s a bit disheartening to lose a game like that, especially against a top of the league side.
“We’ll put it behind us. We played well, especially towards the latter stages of the game and hopefully we can bring that in to Saturday’s game.”
The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game, scoring the opening goal inside 90 seconds.
The ‘Sky Blues’ were cut open down their right hand side and although Dwayne Nelson got down sharply to keep out Darren McFadden’s low shot, O’Flynn was on hand to tap home at the back post.
United struggled to get possession in the early stages as the North West visitors knocked the ball around confidently.
Ballymena eventually began to gain a foothold in the game, forcing a number of corners, while full-back Mark McCullagh fizzed in inviting centre across the face of goal, only for there to be no takers.
United levelled in spectacular fashion on 26 minutes. A cross from the right was headed clear by Institute defender Paddy McLaughlin as far as Alan Teggart on the edge of the penalty area. The winger drifted past Stephen Curry before unleashing a left-foot thunderbolt which shot high into the net at debutante keeper, Eugene Ferry’s near post.
As United attempted to continue their form at the start of the second half, Teggart attempted another spectacular shot but he couldn’t get over the ball and his rising shot went just over.
But Teggart was on target on 66 minutes as he continued his outstanding record from the penalty spot.
Overlapping full-back Stephen McBride went down under a challenge from Stephen Curry on the left edge of the penalty area. Referee Keith Kennedy waved away strong Institute protests that the challenge had taken place outside the box and Teggart stepped up to confidently fire his spot kick into the bottom corner, beyond the reach of Ferry.
At the other end, sub Ben Doherty’s through ball sent Darren McFadden clear on goal but keeper Nelson advanced quickly to block the Institute player’s effort on the edge of the penalty area.
Johnny Taylor also made a crucial block from an O’Flynn shot while Nelson made a crucial block from Robbie Hume in injury time to preserve Ballymena’s lead.
Ballymena United: Nelson, McCullagh, Munster, Taylor (c), McBride, Kane (sub Boyce 66), Taggart, Surgenor (sub McCaul 73), Teggart, Tipton, Cushley (sub Ruddy 79). Subs (not used): Stewart, Harris.
Institute: Ferry, McLaughlin, Scoltock, Crown; Curry, Forker (sub Doherty 66), Walsh, McKeever; Armstrong (sub Henderson 66), O’Flynn, McFadden (sub Hume 78). Subs (not used): Young, Kelly.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn).