Institute miss chance to secure win at Ballymena United
Ballymena United 1, Institute 1
Institute will certainly feel it was two points dropped rather than one gained, as they created a chances, against a disappointing Ballymena United side.
Sean Connor's side had a host of opening but a combination of some top saves from Ross Glendinning and a lack of composure denied them securing the points at the Showgrounds.
United brought back goalkeeper Ross Glendinning for today's encounter, as David Jeffrey made one change from their side which defeated H&W Welders in the County Antrim Shield in mid-week.
As for the visitors made two changes to their side which loss to champions Linfield last week, with Shane McNamee and Evan Tweed replacing Jack Bradley, who dropped to the bench and the suspended Ryan Morrow.
After neither side really created much in the opening 10 minutes, United skipper Jim Ervin went close on 14 minutes, but his long range strike was well gathered by 'Stute keeper Rory Brown.
Institute went close themselves minutes later as Joe McCready's 25 yard free-kick was turned around the post by a diving Glendinning.
From Tweed's resulting right wing corner saw somewhat of a pinball inside the United six yard box, but centre-back Conor Tourish's header was cleared off the line by Kenneth Kane.
The visitors rightfully were awarded a penalty on 29 minutes as Ervin booted Gareth Brown inside the box, referee Evan Boyce had no hesitation of pointing to the spot and McCready, coolly slotted home the resulting spot-kick, rolling the ball into Glendinning's bottom right hand corner.
Glendinning had to make a top draw save on 40 minutes, as Colm McLaughlin's well his drive, which fizzed through a host of players, was superbly parried away for a corner by the United keeper.
Two minutes later a fantastic lung bursting run by Gareth Brown, which saw him run some 60 yards, before seeing his right footed strike inside the box, brilliantly kept out by Glendinning.
United were gifted a way back into the game on 50 minutes after a goalkeeping error by Rory Brown.
Graham Crown had guided the ball back to the 'Stute net-minder, he in turn fumbled the ball into Adam Lecky's path inside the six yard box and just as the striker was about to put the ball into the empty net, he was pulled down by Brown.
Referee Boyce rightfully pointed to the spot and Andrew McGrory made no mistake from 12 yards, drilling the ball straight down the centre of the goal.
The visitors had strong claims for a penalty moments later as Gareth Brown broke the offside trap, before he looked to have been brought down inside the box by Jonathan Addis, but the referee waved play-on must to 'Stute's frustration.
Just before the hour mark Rory Brown made up for his effort, when a full stretch he did well to kept out Lecky's powerful header.
A fantastic passing move by the visitors on 81 minutes ended with McCready's clever pass releasing Conor Tourish, but the big defender's angled drive from the right hand edge of the box flashed just over the bar.
Moments later McCready was inches away from scoring a stunning second goal, as his 20 yard strike was tipped over by a fully stretched Glendinning.
The woodwork saved 'Stute on 88 minutes as Ross Lavery's left wing cross found Shane McGinty and his stunning left foot volley from 12 yards, which had Brown beaten, rattled the crossbar.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Erin, Burns, Addis; McGrory, McGinty, Winchester McCullough; Carville (A Kane 76), Lecky, K Kane (Lavery 62).
Institute: R Brown, Tourish, D Curry, McLaughlin; Tweed (Bradley 84), Crown, McCauley, Grace, McNamee (McIntyre 69), McCready, G Brown (McGurk 82).
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).