IT WAS a case of history repeating itself for Institute on IFA Championship opening day on Saturday afternoon.
The Drumahoe club surrendered a comfortable two goal advantage against Championship new-boys, Lisburn Distillery and had to settle for a share of the spoils in the end.
Rewind exactly 12 months and one will find striking similarities as ‘Stute threw away a 2-0 lead against a Carrick Rangers side which had been relegated the previous season!
Darren McCauley and Robbie Hume had put the visitors into the driving seat on Saturday with goals on either side of half-time.
However, concentration levels dropped and two goals in the final 15 minutes gifted the ‘Whites’ a valuable point.
Distillery will be expected to be among those sides challenging at the business end of the table come next April and ahead of kick-off one can safely assume that ‘Stute manager, Paul Kee would’ve been happy to take home a share of the spoils.
However, the visitors never looked in any danger of surrendering their grasp on three points until 15 minutes from time when Sean Southam and David Wright netted.
Therefore, to come away from Ballyskeagh with just a single point was ‘difficult to take’ for the ‘Stute boss.
Indeed, Kee vented his frustrations afterwards and was disappointed his side failed to match Distillery’s physicality and hunger.
“It wasn’t the performance I expected to be honest,” he lamented.
“It was a game we should have won. I was very disappointed not to come away with maximum points. It was very hard to take.
“We weren’t as free-flowing as we normally would be but that was partly down to Distillery’s effort and hard work.
“And I don’t think we really got a grip on the game,” he continued.
“We moved into a comfortable 2-0 lead and didn’t have to do a lot of work for it.
“But in the last 15 minutes they scored a soft goal and they didn’t look like scoring before that.
“That goal gave them a bit of momentum and from there we lost our way a bit.
“We lost our concentration and conceded again in the 90th minute.”
And the similarities with last season’s opening day draw with Carrick wasn’t lost on the Drumahoe man.
“The same thing happened to us last year away to Carrick when we were two goals up and drew 2-2.
“When they scored their first we were more interested in keeping it at 2-1 rather than going on to score a third and that cost us in the end.”
There was some controversy surrounding Institute’s opening goal as the hosts claimed for an offside.
And the ‘Whites’ case wasn’t helped by the absence of the referee’s assistant who had failed to turn up!
Kee was adamant that David Wright’s injury time leveller was also offside but he had no complaints with the final result.
“They were claiming our first goal was offside and one of the linesmen didn’t show up.
“It was a good goal from McCauley and their second goal was definitely offside. But we didn’t do ourselves any justice in fairness.”
Lisburn Distillery, alongside Donegal Celtic and Carrick Rangers will be among those teams expected to challenge for promotion this season.
Therefore, Kee is anxious to get on the winning trail as soon as possible as he predicts a tightly contested league this year.
“This league is so unpredictable. Many of the teams have strengthened from last year and teams like Donegal Celtic and Distillery have been weakened, but any team on their day is capable of beating anyone. It’s a competitive, robust league.
“And we weren’t robust or physical enough on Saturday.”