Peter Wilson reports from Inver Park
The Invermen cruised to a five-goal victory over Championship outfit Ards, as they maintained their unbeaten pre-season record.
Back at Inver Park for the first time since their pre-season training camp in Poland last week, the Reds were on fire as Thomas Stewart earned a hat-trick while David McDaid and Jeff Hughes each got a goal of their own.
The hosts began the night in horrendous conditions but battled through the early difficulty to go 1-0 up after just four minutes; Ben Tilney swerving his delivery in from the left in toward Thomas Stewart at the back-post who duly stabbed in.
An unlikely chance for number two came 20 minutes later as Mark Randall caught the Ards keeper off his line but while his speculative effort beat the goalkeeper, it couldn’t beat the woodwork.
Larne needed a second goal to get a firmer grip on the game and this arrived just after half an hour as Tomas Cosgrove whipped a ball into the six yard box to Jeff Hughes who found the time to shoot low. The keeper managed to make the save but the loose ball fell to Stewart who poked in the follow up.
Stewart was soon to achieve his hat-trick only five minutes from the interval as a great ball from Hughes ended up at Lee Lynch’s feet with the midfielder laying off to Stewart to slot home into the bottom left inside the six yard box.
The home side took full control early in the second half as Johnny McMurray put a ball over the top to Tilney who pulled back to Hughes, with the keeper spilling the Larne veteran’s shot into the goal.
With seven minutes remaining, Sean Graham squared the ball into David McDaid with the goalkeeper showing superb agility to spread himself to deny the striker at point blank range.
The final goal of the evening was a display of great link-up play between strike partners McDaid and McMurray as the former poked the ball to McMurray inside the box, with the ex-Ballymena man returning to McDaid who rounded the keeper to turn the ball home.
Larne: Mitchell, Cosgrove, Tilney, McEleney, Ramsey, Kelly, Hughes, Randall, Donnelly, Lynch, Stewart
Subs: Devlin, McMurray, McDaid, Gilmour, Watson, Hassin, Graham, Trialist
Up next for Larne is another home friendly on Saturday 20 July against Huddersfield Town XI at 3pm.