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DC holding the key to Stute’s future

Institute's Premiership status now rests precariously in the hands of Championship title chasers Donegal Celtic.

A point from their penultimate game against Coleraine last night confirmed John Gregg's side will finish bottom of the table, four points behind Lisburn Distillery.

With only a home game against Newry City remaining, 'Stute have run out of games in their battle to avoid the drop.

If DC win Championship One, the north-west side will take their place in the second tier next season.

However, if Pat McAllister's team end up second and the west Belfast outfit finish runners-up then they will slug it out in a play-off with the Drumahoe side for a place in the top flight.

Gareth Tommons' second half equaliser for Coleraine condemned 'Stute to bottom spot after they had got off to a flyer with Paddy McLaughlin delivering a goal inside two minutes for the home team.

But the Institute's slide to rock bottom was on the cards long before this game when their form nose dived while long time basement dwellers Lisburn Distillery's fortunes took a turn for the better with an impressive run of results.

Now it is a case of wait and see for Gregg and his players.

Things looked much brighter early on last night when Thomas Wray headed the ball on from a Ryan Semple corner and McLaughlin pounced from six yards, steering a downward header past keeper Davy O'Hare.

The goal ensured the Drumahoe side were in the driving seat and Coleraine, who finished with ten men after striker Darren Boyce was sent off for dissent, seldom featured in the final third.

However, chances were at a premium although former Glentoran and Derry City man Sean Holmes created space for himself to get in a shot which ended up well off target with 25 minutes gone.

The visitors continued to search for an equaliser after the break and Institute's stout resistance was finally ground down thanks to a sweet cross from Stephen Lowry, Rory Patterson flicked the ball on and Tommons chested the ball down before beating Cullen with a ground shot after 57 minutes.

Boyce was sent off for dissent late on protesting to referee Davy Malcolm that he should have been awarded a free kick when he was the victim of a late challenge.

Institute: Cullen, Wray, Holmes, McLaughlin, Ogilby, Semple, McClean, Boyle, Divin, McCready, Friars Lowry 77). Subs. Crown, Smith, Ryan, Blackburn.

Coleraine: O'Hare, Canning, Beverland (Millar 86), Harkin, McLaughlin, Hegarty, McCallion, Tommons, Boyce, Patterson, Lowry (McVey 77). Subs. McCormick, Patton, Quinn.

Referee: Davy Malcolm (Bangor).

Belfast Telegraph