Institute suffered their first league defeat in 14 games as title chasing Ards secured a massive 2-1 win, at Drumahoe.
Carl McComb’s second half strike ensured Niall Currie’s side collected all three points, but Stute boss Kevin Deery was bitterly disappointed by his team’s poor performance.
The Waterside men probably produced their worst display in a number of months, however they did have the chances to share the spoils.
A second half penalty miss from Ciaron Harkin and a late chance for Alex Pomeroy, which wasn’t taken, just summed up the poor day at the office for Kevin Deery’s side.
Nevertheless, despite the loss, a victory at lowly Lisburn Distillery on Tuesday night will virtually guarantee Stute a promotion play-off place.
Considering their poor start to the season, a Intermediate Cup Final against Ards, at Windsor Park in 10 days and a possible promotion play-off spot, would mean it was a superb campaign for Kevin Deery’s first season in management in senior football.
After a nervy start it was the visitors who had half a chance on 19 minutes when Denver Gage’s flick-on found Gary Dorrian, but the midfielder’s glancing header flew just wide.
The deadlock was broken on 23 minutes in superb fashion when Niall Grace’s clever pass released Gareth Brown and the striker made no mistake, curling the ball high into Ryan Brown’s top right hand corner, from the just inside the box.
Ards levelled things on 30 minutes after Thomas Lambe’s corner from the right found Gage at the back post and his downward header somehow went past Stute goalkeeper Marty Gallagher.
Kevin Deery made a positive change at the break with the in-form Pomeroy replacing Jamie Dunne, as Stute moved two strikers up top.
Ards went into the lead in fortunate circumstances on 60 minutes when Gallagher’s throw-out was miss controlled by the unfortunate Aaron Harkin and the ball fell perfectly for McComb and the winger’s first time chip could only be pushed into the net the back tracking Stute keeper.
Institute missed a golden chance to level things on 68 minutes from the penalty spot when Pomeroy was brought down inside the box by Greg Hall, however Ciaron Harkin’s poor effort from 12 yards was kept out by Brown.
In stoppage time Pomeroy had a great chance to snatch a point when he broke in behind the Ards defence, but with his weaker left foot he fired wide.
Institute: Gallagher, Jarvis, O’Donnell, Scoltock, Hume; C Harkin (McGinty 72), Grace, A Harkin; Dunne (Pomeroy H-T), Brown, McIntyre (Mills 72).
Ards: Brown, Hall, Gage, Convery, Lambe, McCullough, Dorrian (Browne 72), Arthurs, Baker (Browne 90), O’Neill (McAllister 59), McComb.
Referee: Mr John Deighan (Limavady).