Institute manager Kevin Deery was proud of his players after their ‘never say die’ attitude secured a point against Dergview, on Saturday.
The Waterside men were trailing 1-0 with minutes remaining and had duo Sean McCarron and Darryl McDermott sent-off, but Michael McCrudden levelled things from the spot to earn a share of the spoils against the league leaders.
“We’ve had a lot thrown at us, especially with the personal things off the pitch but we just keep showing up and fighting,” said Deery.
“We have to accept the decisions of the referee but I have to speak about the nine men who finished the pitch and to a man, they were excellent.
“We were even pushing for the winner with nine men, and although Marty (Gallagher) made a great save, we looked as if we could maybe nick the winner and that’s testament to the players who finished the match.”
The Stute boss also felt his young squad have learned from the last season by securing a point.
“If this was last year, we would have lost those games, especially early in the season. There is a group of fellas in there who are absolutely exhausted, but it just shows that we are fighting and we always will,” he added.
“We got a bit of good news off the pitch with Niall (Grace) and he has fought his way out of it, so it’s testament to us and this group that we are willing to sacrifice a lot to get results.
“It’s a point gained without doubt. We were disappointed to only get a point at Knockbreda after dominating the game, but this time there looked to be only one winner whenever Dergview took the lead and we went down to nine. It is absolutely a great point and it also keeps us unbeaten from the first day of the season.”
Deery was delighted that McCrudden took command of the situation late-on to fire home from the spot to earn a point.
The ex-Ballinamallard United man had a slight argument with midfielder Ciaron Harkin on who would take the penalty, but his experience meant he took the ball and slotted home the leveller.
“You just see that Michael is one of the experienced players now. He’s not the young lad now, but the player that others look to,” said Deery.
“Once I saw him reach for the ball and Jackie (Ciaron Harkin) trying to fight with him, I only wanted one man to take it and thankfully my prayers were answered and Mickey stepped up and put it away so it’s a great point for us, without a doubt.
“I thought we had four chances to their one in the first half and we were the better team.
“In the 15 minutes up to half time they had a good spell, but it wasn’t blinding football, more long balls forward and we knew that was their game plan. I thought we coped reasonably well but you can’t stop a team from creating odd chances around your box. We could have been two up in the first half before they even had a chance.”