Two goals in the final 4 minutes gave league leaders Instonians a 4-2 home victory over a North Down side that fought to the final whistle last Saturday. This was an evenly fought contest with the league leaders being pushed all the way.
Once the rain stopped the pitch quickly drained and the game was able to begin on time. The first half was evenly contested with both sides having periods of superiority. North Down came close to scoring on a number of occasions but the Inst goal escaped. After 20 minutes Inst broke quickly from defence and the left winger found himself in the clear. He raced into the circle and beat Ally McArthur with a rasping reverse shot. New skipper Ross Linter, in the absence of the injured Tom Donnan, worked hard for his team and was behind most of the moves which spelt danger for the Inst defence. Younger brother Jordan was having a blinder in defence and continually frustrated Inst danger man Kirk.
The second half had much more goal mouth action as both teams tried to impose themselves on the game. Ten minutes into the half poor defending allowed Inst in for their second. Andy Corry was allowed to run the ball along the byline and cross for a simple tap in at the far post. North Down heads could have dropped but this was not the case. Persistent play by Gareth McKeown in the circle gave Stevie Dalzell the simple chance to reduce the arrears and shortly afterwards the teams were level again when David Shepherd expertly converted a penalty corner. Almost immediately a shaky Inst defence was almost caught out when Dalzell homed in on goal but the danger was cleared. Both sides probed for the lead but with North Down’s lack of fitness showing Inst began to pile on the pressure. McArthur was having a fine game in goal and made two fine saves from corners. With time running out and a draw looking a possibility the North Down defence was caught out with a killer goal. Only 4 minutes remained on the clock when Kirk was allowed to run the ball along the byline before supplying a cross for a simple tap in. Inst now had the upper hand and with a minute to go scored from a well worked corner. The ball was switched to the right and McArthur made a fine save from the shot but the Inst forward reacted quickest and flicked past the helpless keeper to make the final score 4-2 for the home side.
North Down must carry this improved form into the weeks ahead as they fight for survival in the Premier League.
Report by Robben Minchell.