Institute lose first in three as H&W Welders take points at Brandywell Stadium
Lough 41 Championship
Institute 0, H&W Welders 1
Institute slipped to a first defeat in three games as Craig Harris' deflected first half effort hand Harland & Wolff Welders three points in a scrappy game at the Ryan McBride Brandywqell Stadium on Saturday.
McMurty's 34th minute strike owed more than a little luck to a deflection and summed up a game in which both teams huffed and puffed without ever creating enough in front of goal.
The defeat is Brian Donaghey's first since taking over as Stute boss but he will have seen plenty of positives on which he can build . The worry for the new Stute boss is that for all the home side's pretty approach play and eye catching football, they carried precious little threat in front of goal.
In Brendan McLaughlin, 'Stute had the game's best player and there was plenty of positives for the home side, notably in the back four which looked slid and capable of dealing with anything Welders could throw at them.
Even going forward, Institute played some decent stuff but up against a more physical Welders team, they didn't ask enough questions of the home defence who comfortably dealt with crosses in t the box.
Donaghey handed league debuts to keeper Connolly, and midfielder Joel Bradly Walsh with Jamie Dunne promoted to starting 11 after his cameo off the bench in last week's victory over Dundela.
The inclusion of Connolly may had raised a few eyebrows after some excellent performances from Dylan Doherty in recent weeks but the veteran quickly justified his manager's decision with not one, but TWO saves from a twice taken penalty inside the opening seven minutes.
Connolly's heroics saw justice prevail though because the original award was harsh in the extreme. Six minutes were on the clock when Welders' Charlie Dornan saw his attempted cross blocked by 'Stute's Shaun Doherty. Mark Anderson swung over the resulting corner which cleared the first group of player before striking unsuspecting Institute captain Aidan McCauley on the arm.
There was little McCauley could do about it but referee Niall Gallagher immediately pointed to the spot! Up stepped Welders dangerman Michael McLellan but he first penalty, low to Connolly's right, was easily gathered by the home keeper.
'Stute celebrations were short-lived though as the referee had spotted some encroachment and ordered a retake. Up stepped McLellan once more, this time going to Connolly's left, but again the keeper was equal to his tame, low effort and the game remained scoreless.
It was a brief spark in an otherwise low key opening half in which the visitors enjoyed the majority of decent chances. Institute had plenty of possession but were unable to make the ball stick with the front men and too often their final ball into the box was poor and failed to match their neat build-up.
Welders were more direct in their approach but it was through set-pieces that both sides were afforded their best opportunities to break the deadlock.
Aidan McCauley saw a shot sail over 20 minutes in but it was the exception rather than the rule for the home side in the opening half. Ironically 'Stute's best chance came from a Welders corner on 27 minutes. McCauley was the man on hand to get the ball clear of the home box but it was little more than a clearance in the opposition half. Brendan McLaughlin though was determined to make something of it and wrestled possession off Welders defender James McCarthy. Forty yards from goal but with Welders No. 1 Ben McCauley miles off his line, McLaughlin took aim, but watched as his low effort beat McCauley but rolled wide.
It was to prove costly on 34 minutes when Welders enjoyed their slice of good fortune on their way to breaking the deadlock through midfielder Harris. The Welders man took advantage of some loose play from the home side 10 yards from their own goal but little seemed on, prompting the midfielder to try his luck from 20 yards with the ball finding the far corner courtesy of a wicked deflection off a Stute defender.
Alan McMurty could have doubled that lead minutes later with a lovely curling effort but that solitary strike was all that separated the sides at the interval.
The visitors started the second half on the front foot with Connolly forced into a smart save from another McMurty short following a corner that was cleared to the edge of the area. 'Stute responded with a superb curling free-kick from McLaughlin which had McCauley diving to his right to turn it behind for a corner.
Institute introduced striker Gabriel Aduaka, a move which saw Oran Brogan switch to right back, and the youngster was immediately involved in the action, offering Stute a real outlet with his pace and power.
With the game becoming scrappy once more, it took a a fabulous left footed volley from Welders' Mark Anderson to spark the game back into life, the wingers superb shot being greeted by an equally exceptional save from Connolly who was at full stretch to touch the shot on to his left hand post.
And Stute should have made them pay for the miss on 83 minutes when Brogan got forward brilliantly from his new right back position to get on the end of an inviting Joel Gorman cross but having done the hard part, Brogan could only glance his effort inches wide of the far post from six yards.
Institute tried to forced the issue late on but without ever looking likely to breach the visitors defence as Harris' goal proved enough to claim the three points.
Institute: John Connolly, Rhys McDermott (Gabriel Aduaka, 46), Conor Quigley, Shaun Leppard, Joel Bradley Walsh, Aidan McCauley ( Joel Gorman, 74) , Shaun Doherty, Liam Walsh, Oran Brogan, Jamie Dunne (Jack Bradley, 59), Brendan McLaughlin. (Subs not used) Anto Hargan, Joshua Busteed, Eoin Logue, Dylan Doherty.
H&W Welders: Ben McCauley, Matthew Henry, James McCarthy, Daniel McMurray, Calum Byers, Charlie Dornan, David Graham (Gareth Tommons, 85), Alan McMurty (Carl McComb, 78), Craig Harris, Michael McLellan (Darren Murray, 78), Mark Anderson. (Subs not used) Gary Spence, Brandon Nelson, Scott McMillan, Joshua Boyd.
Yellow Cards: A McMurty, 39mins; J McCarthy, 41mins;
Referee: Niall Gallagher