Mallards leave it late to secure top flight status
Ballinamallard 3 Institute 3
There was late, late drama at Ferney Park as Ballinamallard secured their Premiership status with a Mark Scoltock own goal four minutes into injury time, sealing a 5-4 aggregate win over Institute.
With Institute leading on away goals and the Mallards down to 10 men following the dismissal of Liam McMenamin in the 90th minute, the Fermanagh side's four-year stay in the Premiership appeared to be coming to an end.
But a corner was headed towards goal and it came off Scoltock's head and crossed the line to keep Ballinamallard in the top flight for a fifth season.
The Mallards went into the game with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg but after a seven-week hold up due to the Gary Haveron suspension row, it was unsurprising that both teams took time to find their feet in the game.
But Institute went in front with 17 minutes on the clock.
Jamie Dunne drilled a low effort beyond home keeper Alvin Rouse. However, the Mallards, who had new manager Gavin Dyke in charge of the side with Whitey Anderson serving a suspension, hit back quickly and were back on level terms on the night and ahead on aggregate four minutes later.
Jason McCartney delivered a free kick from the right and Emmett Friars was left unmarked to head home. But Institute went on to regain the lead again in the 27th minute. An excellent low cross from the right was steered home by Gareth Brown.
The home side were then awarded a penalty on the hour mark. Lafferty was taken down in the box by Stephen O'Donnell and Cathal Beacom produced an emphatic finish.
However, Institute responded in some style. Shane McGinty unleashed an unstoppable effort that flew past Rouse.
And then right at the end the Mallards piled everybody forward for a corner and somehow the ball came off Scoltock and crossed the line.
• Ken Oman, Matty Parker, Mark Carson and Padraig Judge have agreed new deals with Portadown.
The Ports have also signed midfielder Ciaran Doherty, defender Ben Murdock and forward Aaron Haire.
Pat McGibbon has already added Brendan Shannon and Adam Rodgers to his squad, while Keith O'Hara and Jake Richardson will remain at the club.
Ballinamallard Utd: Rouse, Morris, Dykes, Friars (McMenamin 46), Feeney, McCartney, Beacom, Currie (McIlwaine 82), Campbell, Lafferty, McKenna (Owens 74)
Institute: Gallagher, O'Donnell, Morrow, McLaughlin, Scoltock, Harkin, Dunne (McIntyre 77), Harkin (Jarvis 93), Brown (Hume 71), S. McGinty, McCrudden.
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)