Instonians missed out on the chance to join Bangor at the top of the Ulster Premier League table on Saturday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Kilkeel in Belfast, writes John Flack.
However, it could have been zero points instead of one as it took a last-gasp equaliser from Stuart McWilliams to earn Inst a share of the spoils. The final whistle had actually been blown moments before a penalty-corner was taken but, as the rules dictate, play was allowed to proceed.
Kilkeel protested that the corner should not have been awarded in the first place as a lofted clearance was penalised for dangerous play as a visiting player was forced to take evasive action.
But their claims went unheeded and, after Sam Morris had saved William Robinson’s initial attempt, McWilliams hammered home the rebound. Although they left it late, Instonians probably deserved a point on the basis of what had preceded during the 70 minutes.
After a relatively dull and chance-less opening 25 minutes, the game sprung to life in the dying embers of the first-half. David Finlay’s clever pass found Luke Russell and his deflected effort crashed off the crossbar but, in the 31st minute Kilkeel took the lead.
Eddie Agnew’s close-range effort beat home goalkeeper Sam Brown and the Co Down side went into the break a goal to the good.
In the second-half, Instonians were more dominant with Gavin Leckey a constant threat and he brought the best out of Morris early on and then saw his shot hit the upright with 14 minutes left.
After David Rae had gone close at the other end, Morris saved a Robinson drag flick with two minutes remaining before he was eventually beaten with that stoppage-time effort from McWilliams.
In the other games, there were wins for Belfast Harlequins, Mossley, South Antrim and Queen’s while the match between Cliftonville and Raphoe ended 1-1.
Ballymoney made it six wins out of six as they displaced Dungannon at the top of the women’s Ulster Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Rainey at the Joey Dunlop Centre.
The Co Antrim side put the game virtually beyond Rainey’s reach in the first-half as they built up a 3-0 lead.
Charlotte Stacey scored twice and Olivia Mullan – sister of Ireland captain Katie – continued her impressive form with a third.
Betty Scott his a consolation goal for newly-promoted Rainey near the end but it was too little, too late for the Magherafelt side.
Champions Lurgan were held to a scoreless draw by Lurgan in a tight contest at the Co Armagh venue where home defender Phoebe Preston sustained a nasty facial injury which required stitches after she was struck by the ball.
Lurgan coach Robbie McMinn declared: “Hopefully it’s not too serious and she won’t be out for too long although I guess it will be a week or two.”
“Both teams had their chances and it was a close game that could have gone either way so we’re not too disappointed with the result.
“Dungannon are a decent side and they defend well but they are also dangerous on the counter-attack.”
Queen’s weathered a second-half storm to defeat Mossley 2-0 at the Glade after Jessica McMaster and Robyn McKee had scored before the break.
Ulster Elks secured their first win of the season as they condemned Portadown to a sixth successive defeat with a 3-1 victory at Jordanstown.
Chloe Mitchell and Hannah Irwin scored in the first quarter to put the Elks in the driving-seat.
The hosts were reduced to nine players mid way through the second-half and the struggling Ports took advantage when Leanne Cassels pulled a goal back in the 55th minute.
However, Emma Quinn scored the insurance goal five minutes later when her team was back to full-strength.
In Senior One, Armagh pulled off a surprise 2-1 win over Priorians with Yasmin Morrow getting both the goals for Ian Hughes’ side.
Lisnagarvey will meet Ballymena in the Senior Cup final after identical 2-1 victories over Victorians and Raphoe respectively at Stormont on Sunday.
Ulster Premier: Instonians 1 (S McWilliams) Kilkeel 1 (E Agnew); Cliftonville 1 (T McKane) Raphoe 1 (T Orr); Antrim 2 (A Mullan, D Wilson) Harlequins 4 (M Gray 2, M McKenna 2); Queen’s 2 (R Kelly 2) North Down 1 (G McKeown); Mossley 2 (J Robinson, T Moreland) Newry 0; Civil Service 1 (C Barnes) South Antrim 2 (P Maguire, R Brown).
Senior Cup semi-finals: Lisnagarvey 2 (R Houston, B Walker) Victorians 1 (R Hewitt); Ballymena 2 (R Reynolds 2) Raphoe 1 (S Barnett).
Ulster Premier: Ballymoney 3 (C Stacey 2, O Mullan); Lurgan 0 Dungannon 0; Mossley 0 Queen’s 2 (J McMaster, R McKee); Randalstown 1 (K Coulter) Banbridge 0; Senior One: Armagh 2 (Y Morrow 2) Priorians 1 (S Black).