Report by Peter Wilson
Larne lost narrowly at home to Derry City in their fifth game of pre-season. All that separated the sides was a Walter Figueira goal 10 minutes from the break. Despite the defeat, two of Larne’s Academy players, Elliott Wood and Matty Lusty got their first taste of first team action.
Larne came into the Derry game on the back of a tight 1-0 win over fellow Premiership side, Warrenpoint Town the previous weekend. Both sides began on the front foot, exchanging attacks at either end but with few chances in the first half an hour.
In the eighth minute, City’s Jack Malone had a go from distance but Conor Mitchell easily held on to the ball.
The only goal of the game arrived 10 minutes from the break as Walter Figueira did well to cut inside from the left and lashed a shot straight into the bottom right, from just outside the area.
Just on the stroke of half time, Larne’s trialist for the evening won the ball and made a surging run down the right channel with his initial shot well saved by Peter Cherrie. Ronan Hale followed up at close range but it was over the bar.
As the second period got underway, Conor Devlin, Marty Donnelly, Ben Tilney and Mark Randall came on for Conor Mitchell, Jeff Hughes, Andy Scott and the trialist.
With 58 minutes gone, on the counter, Ben Tilney fed the ball into Hale and the forward’s low shot was only narrowly wide as the ball went into the side-netting.
In the space of seven second-half minutes, the Invermen came close with three close chances to grab an equaliser. With 74 minutes gone, Lee Lynch on the right switched it to Tilney on the left. He then played the ball into Mark Randall whose effort was deflected just wide by Hale, who was three yards out.
Just two minutes later, Randall came even closer as his deflected shot came back off the post and landed in the arms of the Derry stopper. On 81, Tomas Cosgrove crossed in from the right and Randall’s half volley looked goal bound, but somehow City defender Mark McChrystal recovered to cleared it off the line.
With a quarter of an hour left, 16 year old Academy player, Matty Lusty came on for striker Ronan Hale.
With just two minutes left of normal time, another of the Academy players, Elliott Wood got his first action in the senior squad as he replaced midfielder Lee Lynch.
Despite the Inver Reds’ best efforts, Derry City edged it by one goal. Larne will feel perhaps frustrated that they couldn’t grab an equaliser but will be encouraged that they matched up well against another professional side in Derry City.
Larne: C Mitchell, Cosgrove, Kelly, Watson, Robinson, Sule, Hughes, Lynch, Scott, Hale, Trialist
Subs: Donnelly, Randall, Tilney, Devlin, Lusty, Wood, Sloane
Derry City: Cherrie, Horgan, Harkin, Hammill, Figueira, Akintunde, Boyce, Mallon, Cole, McJannett, Malone
Subs: Lemoignan, McChrystal, O. McLaughlin, E. McLaughlin, Barr, C. MacLaughlin
Referee: Shane Andrews
Up next for Larne is a pre-season training match at home to Annagh United on Saturday 19 September. Kick-off is at 3pm.