Ballynure Old Boys (H)

1st Team
B.P.L.
Sat 25th Mar - 2:00pm
W
2-1
Ross
Laughlin
Wakehurst faced off against Ballynure Old Boys for the fourth time this season with the Mossley men proving to be somewhat of a bogey team with ‘Hurst unable to register a victory in 90 minutes in any of the previous three meetings.
 
Without top scorer Stewart Nixon through suspension and central defender Kyle Crawford with an illness, the interim management team of Dougie Stevenson, Jason Connolly & Ian Gregg re-shuffled their pack with Nicky Black playing in an unfamiliar left wing role and captain Andy Laughlin supporting Zach Barr up front.
 
Wakehurst took a while to settle with the visitors enjoying the better opportunities of the first 15 minutes without ever really troubling Andy Findlay although they probably should have been in front when Duff miscued his strike when well placed in the box.
 
As the half wore on, the hosts started to get in to the game with Laughlin forcing a save from Jonah Nicholl in the Ballynure goal and was unable to convert the follow up before Lee McClelland shot over at the back post.
 
In truth, the first half was relatively quiet and the sides went in goalless.
 
Half Time: Wakehurst 0-0 Ballynure OB
 
Wakehurst came out firing in the second period in this must win game with Barr smacking a thunderous strike against the crossbar, leaving Nicholl well beaten before the big striker held the ball up, got down the right and fired across the box but McClelland scooped over from close range.
 
A horrible challenge from Curlett on Conor Ross on the right wing raised tensions between the sides in what is usually a fiery clash in any event and following some handbags between the left back and the Wakehurst sideline which saw Jason Connolly sent from the touchline, the game resumed with ‘Hurst pushing for an opener.
 
It finally came on the 72nd minute when Conor Ross brilliantly brought down a ball in the box and fired in to the bottom corner from close range.
 
Ballynure fought back and grabbed and equaliser when captain Michael Duff got free from a corner to head past Andy Findlay and make it 1-1 on 83 minutes.
 
With the game in to injury time and the sides seemingly heading for a point apiece, Wakehurst threw everything forward and following a mistake from Nicholl, Andy Laughlin was on hand to head home the winner in to an empty net with just seconds left to play.
 
A terrific, dogged performance from ‘Hurst against a strong and hard to break down Ballynure ended the hoodoo and we move top of the league on the same points as second placed Coagh but the Mid Ulster men have a game in hand in which they will be awarded a 3-0 win following Magherafelt Sky Blues’ inability to field a team this week.
 
Starting Team: A. Findlay, A. Millar, P. McClure, N. Swann, K. McCartney, C. Ross, L. McClelland, D. McLaughlin, N. Black, A. Laughlin (C), Z. Barr.
 
Subs: C. Price (on for Black, 82), A. Shaw, M. Logan, S. Mellon.
 
Next up for Wakehurst is an O’Gorman Cup semi final with Dunloy FC on April 1st at Ballymena Showgrounds.