Report: Peter Wilson
Photo: Bill Guiller
Larne edged out Glenavon in a five-goal thriller at Inver Park to remain second in the Premiership table, five points behind leaders Cliftonville.
Early goals from Ben Doherty and Jeff Hughes seemed to put the Invermen firmly in control but the visitors hit back through Peter Campbell. While Larne restored their two-goal lead before the break through Davy McDaid, the Lurgan Blues set up a tense finish with Campbell snatching a second mid-way through the second half. However, Larne ultimately held on for the three points.
Larne started the game off very brightly, the first goal arriving with just 90 seconds played. Navid Nasseri’s cross found Ben Doherty at the back post. Doherty cut across the ball and finished a pinpoint left-footed strike low into the bottom right.
On 5, Jack O’Mahony made a great run for Glenavon but his pass to put a Glenavon forward in on goal was just overhit.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Andrew Hall hit his 35-yard free kick straight down the throat of Rohan Ferguson.
The home side proceeded to double their advantage with a quarter of an hour played. Goalscorer Doherty turned provider as his dangerous right-wing corner was kept alive by Mark Randall. The ball fell to skipper Jeff Hughes who turned inside and fired into the top corner from 10 yards.
However, the visitors hit back six minutes later through Peter Campbell. Sean Ward’s ball forward was not dealt with by the Larne defence, allowing Campbell to nip in through, round Ferguson & slot home despite Tomas Cosgrove’s best efforts to stop the ball on the line.
On 26 minutes, Glenavon won the first ball from a throw-in and Matthew Fitzpatrick’s looping header forced Ferguson to save at full stretch.
The Invermen restored their two-goal cushion just after the half hour mark. Hughes played an exquisite ball out wide to Doherty, who beat the offside trap, on the right flank. The ex-Coleraine player was patient, squaring for Davy McDaid who tapped in from two yards out.
Lee Lynch almost scored Larne’s fourth of the afternoon seven minutes from the interval. Randall played Lynch through on goal with the Irishman trying to chip the ball over James Taylor from just inside the box, but the Glenavon stopper superbly tipped the shot over the bar.
Half-time: Larne 3 Glenavon 1
The home side came agonisingly close to extending their lead once more four minutes into the second half. Nasseri’s strike from 12 yards was bundled away by Taylor. Ben Doherty’s follow up was hacked off the line by Calum Birney.
With just over an hour played, Randall was able to glide through the visiting midfield and defence on a 50-yard mazy run, but his dink was a few yards wide of Taylor’s right-hand post.
The Lurgan Blues narrowed the gap between the sides once more on 65. Hall’s corner fell to Campbell who popped the ball into the bottom right amidst a sea of players for his second of the afternoon.
Glenavon’s second goal set up a frenetic finish to the game. On 82 minutes, good work from substitute Ronan Hale saw the striker lay it off to Andy Scott, but he fired just wide from inside the box.
In a last-ditch effort to add to the hosts’ tally, McDaid sprayed a low ball into Hale in the second minute of stoppage time but there was too much on it for him to get a touch.
Full-time: Larne 3 Glenavon 2
Larne: Ferguson, Kelly (Watson, 46 mins), Sule, Nasseri (Scott, 69 mins), Randall, McDaid, Doherty, Lynch (Hale, 69 mins), Bolger, Cosgrove, Hughes (c)
Unused Subs: Argyrides, Oluwa, Jarvis, Greer
Glenavon: Taylor, Stafford, Birney (J Doyle, 65 mins), A Doyle (c), Campbell (Waterworth, 80 mins), Hall, Fitzpatrick, O’Mahony (Beggs, 80 mins), Wallace, Garrett, Ward
Unused Subs: Brown, Harmon, Hunter, Norton
Man of the Match: Mark Randall
Referee: Lee Tavinder
Larne travel to Ballycastle Road on Friday 19 November to face Coleraine in their next Premiership game. Kick off at the Coleraine Showgrounds is 7.45pm.