FOOTBALL: Ballynure Old Boys topple Chimney Corner

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Ballynure Old Boys toppled leaders Chimney Corner and took their place at the Ballymena Intermediate Division summit.

Strikes by Dan Ellis and Ricky Higgins had Gary Burns’ lads coasting at the turnaround, and a spirited home revival at Allen Park set up a tense finish, but the ‘Nure lads held out for a 2-1 win.

Corner started promisingly and only a fine save by Paul Hughes prevented them from taking an early lead, but gradually the visitors began to assert their authority and Ellis opened the scoring with a header from a Mark Curlett cross to the back post.

In the 31st minute Higgins doubled the lead when he rounded the keeper and squeezed the ball inside the post from a narrow angle.

Just before the interval Hughes came to the rescue again when he tipped over a headed effort from a set-piece.

The frantic pace continued in the second session, and the home keeper did well to tip over Michael Duff’s effort, after the Higgins brothers, Ricky and David, had created the opening.

In the 65th minute Corner were back in contention with a close range score, but they were unable to salvage a point.

“We just about deserved to turn round two up, but they came at us strong in the second half, and we had to work hard to collect full points,” said Burns. “That was Corner’s first defeat, so we replaced them at the top of the table, with five wins from five outings. We were rather short-handed today so I was delighted when Simon McGreevy came out of retirement to help us out,” he added.

Ballynure OB: Hughes; Penny, Robinson, G Curlett, M Curlett; D Higgins, Duff (C), Todd, McIlroy; R Higgins, Ellis. Subs: D Leckey, Houston, McGreevy. On Saturdaym Ballynure entertain Junior League outfit, FC Whiteabbey, in the first round of the Crawford Cup.

Ballynure’s Intermediate Division stablemates Rathcoole FC exited the Irish Cup at the second-round stage. Nathan Stranaghan scored their only goal as they lost 2-1 at home to Lower Maze.