A hat-trick of goals from Chris Gordon – all from the penalty spot – along with a typical opportunist Willie Duncan counter were enough to claim the Govan derby honours for the Ants at New Tinto Park.
Yet this fully deserved victory probably hinged on a terrific 55th minute penalty kick save by their own goalkeeper Sean Patrick
One-time Rossvale striker Gordon’s first spot kick conversion, awarded when he himself was tripped, and Duncan’s score from an acute angle after rounding Bens goalkeeper Lee Hollis, had the visitors 2-0 ahead following a first half where both sides had earlier hit woodwork.
San Gallagher’s free kick on top of the crossbar for Benburb was accompanied by his team’s defensive frailties that led to mix up that saw Duncan strike the upright with a close range effort when it looked easier to score.
Some strong words from home team gaffer Paul Lovering had the effect of his players looking decidedly more determined and intent on making attacking inroads on the resumption.
And payday arrived just minutes after they survived going 3-0 behind when Hollis saved at the feet of a through on goal Gordon as a floated ball into the St Anthony’s penalty box brought a rare moment of hesitation that allowed home team substitute Dean Scott to prod the ball beyond Patrick to half his team’s deficit.
Buoyed by this early breakthrough, Benburb continued to dominate territorially and minutes later the dangerous Scott cut inside the area only to be felled by a combination of three sliding-in St Anthony’s players giving whistler Andy Taylor no option other than to point to the spot.
The roars of approval from Bens supporters were instantly turned to groans as Patrick guessed correctly in diving to his right to beat away Ryan Livingstone’s tame effort
And the spot kick miss was punished minutes later when St Anthony’s midfielder Chris McLaughlin was downed by a rash Josh Meechan tackle and Gordon expertly tucked the ball away for a 3-1 scoreline.
The hitman put away his third sublime strike from 12e yards just five minutes from time after a scramble inside Benburb’s penalty area saw his own netbound shot handled on the line by Scott who duly received his marching orders.
Proof if needed that it was not Benburb’s afternoon came when Livingston crashed a shot off the crossbar.
However, there were no hard luck stories offered up by gaffer Lovering at the final whistle and neither did he take the easy option of blaming whistler Taylor.
The Bens boss had substituted Ryan McCrone with just three minutes played after the midfielder had launched himself into a horrific two-footed challenge that should have earned him a red card.
“It wasn’t the referee who was making basic mistakes out there today – we did that and got our just desserts as a result.
“The guys never played as well as we can but that’s not to take anything away from St Anthony’s who worked so much harder than us to make themselves the better team overall and we can have no complaints.”
The broad smiles on the faces of Ants co-gaffers John Doyle and Ronnie McDonald walking off New Tinto Park told of their delight over a performance that the latter named felt was no more than the visitors deserved.
McDonald said: “I think Benburb expected to turn us over today on the back them winning last Wednesday along with our 5-1 opening Sectional Cup defeat by Pollok, but John and I knew we had players to come back into the team to make us stronger .
“The team has laid down a marker out there by winning in the manner they did but other players have yet to come back from holidays and I’ll be disappointed if this is as good as it gets for us this season.
“We have been blown away by the potential in our dressing room and it may yet take a bit more chopping and changing before our best team is known.”