Institute finish 2017 top of the Bluefin Championship after a comfortable 2-0 win at Limavady United.
First half goals from Dean Curry and Niall Grace ensured the Waterside men end the year on a high.
’Stute’s victory combined with Ballyclare Comrades’ loss at H&W Welders, means they move three points clear at the top and they have two games in a hand.
For the Roesiders they have suffered five losses in a row and player/manager Paul Owens continues to struggle to field his strongest team each week.
The Waterside men in truth cruised to victory and took their foot off the gas in the second half.
’Stute took the lead on nine minutes as Aaron Harkin’s left wing free-kick caused problems for United and an unmarked Dean Curry turned the ball home from close range.
With their tails up ’Stute continued to pile forward and both Michael McCrudden and Grace went close in the opening 20 minutes.
United should have levelled things on 25 minutes but Joel Bradley’s tame strike from just inside the box was easily saved by ’Stute keeper Marty Gallagher.
Grace wasn’t to be denied just after the half-hour mark as Ronan Wilson’s run and cross found the midfielder, who made no mistake, firing home with his left foot, giving United keeper Ray Kelly no chance.
Just before the break United defender Andy Devlin saw his well hit volley saved by Gallagher.
The Roesiders were inches away from pulling a goal back on 51 minutes but Gerard Gillan saw his close range strike flash just wide.
Moments later Bradley would have pulled one back but his well hit drive was superbly blocked by Eamonn Seydak.
Although neither side created much after those two chances, Bradley had a great opportunity to change the game.
The striker broke the offside trap and knocked the ball beyond the out-rushing Gallagher, but instead of going down inside the box, the frontman jumped over the ’Stute keeper and a goal-kick was awarded.
On 84 minutes Institute should have netted a third as substitute Callum Moorehead saw his cut-back find Jamie Dunne, but with the goal at his mercy the winger fired wide.
United’s day was summed up in stoppage time as a counter-attack ended with Gillan firing over from 12 yards.
Institute: Gallagher, Morrow, Bonner, Curry, Seydak; A Harkin (Morrow 66); Jarvis, Grace; Wilson (Moorehead 73); McCrudden, Dunne (N Harkin 85).
Limavady United: Kelly, Devlin, Watt, Crown, McKeever; Carlin (Harkin 31), Law (Mullan 83), Gillan, Owens; Bradley, Murray (Logue 70).
Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor).