After four defeats on the spin, Barn United returned to winning ways with Saturday’s 3-2 victory over neighbours UUJ at Haslett Park.
“We had got into a bad run and this after going six unbeaten. We had got comfortable, thinking we were safe, but hopefully we’ve got ourselves out of it again,” said United’s assistant-manager, Robert McKee. “We’re lucky to come out of it with the three points which we needed because we’ve played more matches than the teams around us!”
Meanwhile, after just one point from their last 12, UUJ remain at the foot of Division 1A, seven adrift of third-bottom Orangefield Old Boys. They really need to win at least five of their six remaining games – which is a mighty task, given its consecutive matches with leaders Downpatrick, challengers St Pat’s and second-bottom Rathfriland Rangers.
The students’ manager, Shane McCullough, suggested: “Against Barn, if we had taken our chances we could have got all three or at least a draw would have been a fair result. We had so many late cry-offs, it killed us and it meant I couldn’t go 3-5-2 as planned.
“We were missing Kevin O’Neill, Anto Hughes, Ryan Kelly and Adam Boyce, all certain starters. In saying that, I thought we had far and away the better of the first half but we just didn’t come out at the start of the second.”
The best chance in a scoreless opening half came before the break when Chris McKeown ballooned Jason Devlin’s cut-back over the bar.
With UUJ failing to reproduce their first-half form, it was Barn who opened the scoring on 56 minutes when Paul Thompson scored direct from a corner.
Wayne Patterson doubled the lead, turning in a Tweedie cross.
UUJ cancelled that one out when Laurence Lyons smacked the ball past Brennan. The visitors could have gone one better but efforts Lyons and Scollay flashed marginally wide.
Barn were also looking dangerous with Tweedie rattling a post and then deprived by keeper Eamon Browne in a couple of one-on-ones before they regained their two-goal advantage; Thompson getting onto the end of a Tweedie cross.
UUJ set up a grandstand finish when Barn’s new recruit, Michael James, brought down the lively Scollay. Barn claimed the offence was just outside the box but Scollay dusted himself down to hammer home the resultant penalty.
On Saturday Barn have no fixture, but UUJ entertain St Patrick’s Young Men.