Ten-man Cliftonville suffered further home heartache last night when Institute bagged a point with a late Kevin Ramsey strike on a forgettable evening at Solitude.
The Reds led through Chris Scannell but, after having Mark Patterson dismissed soon afterwards, found themselves under the cosh for the remainder of the contest before substitute Ramsey pounced.
Cliftonville delivered an early signal of intent with Ronan Scannell delivering a teasing ball into the middle, where goalkeeper Michael Doherty grasped possession just as George McMullan looked set to pounce.
It was Doherty to the rescue again on eight minutes when he saved with his leg to deny Chris Scannell while, from Mark Holland’s return delivery, Institute survived a penalty scare when Francis Murphy appeared to be bundled to the floor by Paddy McLaughlin.
The deadlock was broken on 14 minutes when what appeared to be a harmless ball down the middle outfoxed the visiting defence and Scannell was only too pleased to race through, pick his spot and bag the Reds’ first league goal at Solitude this season.
Conor Downey went close with a left-footed drive but, just as the Reds threatened to stamp their authority on proceedings, they were dealt a blow when Patterson was dismissed on 24 minutes when he brought down Philip Lowry just outside the box.
Although Institute dominated possession for the remainder of the half it was not until the 75th minute that they draw level, Connolly unable to hold on to Divin’s free kick and Ramsey made no mistake with the rebound.
Institute almost nicked it with two minutes to go. The referee missed a blatant push on Holland by Ryan McCreadie as he knocked the ball down to McLaughlin, whose first-time strike was brilliantly turned away by Connolly.
CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly, R Scannell, O’Hara, M Holland, C Scannell, McMullan, Murphy, Smyth, O’Connor, Patterson, Downey. Subs: Hamill, Donaghy, Catney (for Downey, 76 mins), Boyd, Boyce (for Murphy, 86 mins).
INSTITUTE: Doherty, Boyle, Seydak, McLaughlin, Quigley, Ogilby, O’Loughlin, Lowry, McCreadie, Divin, Harkin. Subs: McClean (for O’Loughlin, 70 mins), Scoltock, Ryan, Ramsey (for Harkin, 72 mins), Roddy.
Referee: Alan Black (Antrim).