INSTITUTE came from behind to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Intermediate Cup as they brushed aside Banbridge Town at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With former Derry City midfielder, Michael McCrudden making his debut for the home side, they were very much pre-match favourites to progress in this competition and maintain their chances of adding the Intermediate cup to their North West Senior Cup and Craig Memorial Cup wins.
However, Banbridge clearly didn’t read the script and they had ‘Stute rattled after 19 minutes when Chris McGrath latched onto a poor clearance from Paddy McLaughlin outside the penalty area and placed a delightful side-footed effort off the underside of the crossbar and into the net to put the visitors ahead.
The Co. Down men were enjoying the majority of possession but ‘Stute levelled matters, against the run of play on 28 minutes when the Banbridge defence opened up and Declan McKeever drove forward and sent a powerful left-foot strike into the bottom corner.
‘Stute had their tails up after this and follwing a neat interchange of passes on the left, the lively Aaron McEneff let fly with a terrific effort from 25 yards which seemed destined for the back of the net, however, Kieran Maguire produced a magnificent, finger-tip save at full stretch to push it onto the post.
Two minutes before the interval, Sean Roddy’s curling free-kick crashed off the crossbar and the rebound fell to McLaughlin who’s low shot was saved by Maguire.
Conditions worsened after the restart as the wind and sleet swept across the Riverside pitch towards the River Faughan and the quality on the field also detoriated.
With extra-time looming it was ‘Stute who made the vital breakthrough as substitute, Graham Taylor delivered a pin-point cross onto the head of Davitt Walsh at the back who rose majestically to head beyond the Banbridge ‘keeper.
Walsh added a thrid for the home lot in added time when McCrudden sent him scampering towards goal and with plenty of time and space he placed his shot past the helpless keeper to put the gloss on what was a battling performance against a gutsy Banbridge outfit.
Institute - Martin Gallagher; Sean Roddy, Ryan Browne, Paddy McLaughlin, Dean Jarvis; Michael McCrudden, James McClay (Graham Taylor 77mins), Declan McKeever, Aaron McEneff; Davitt Walsh, Darren McFadden (Andy Cooke, 61mins); Subs not used - John Curran, Richard Lynch, Joe McCready.
Banbridge - Kieran Maguire; Stuart Thompson, James Wilson (Connor Downey 64 mins), Stephen Greene, Daniel Johnson; Simon Robb, Barry Tumilty, Chris McGrath, Matthew McCartan; Chris Kingsberry, Stephen McArea; Subs not used - Ian McDowell, Adam McBurnley.
Referee - Wesley Campbell.