Peter Wilson reports from Inver Park
Larne romped to a 4-0 victory over East Antrim derby rivals Carrick Rangers in the second of the two meetings between the sides in just over a fortnight.
Boxing Day’s encounter ended in a quiet 0-0 draw, but Larne ensured there would be no repeated in this game.
David McDaid got a brace and had several chances to make it a hat-trick, while Johnny McMurray scored a third goal in two league games with Mark Randall also getting himself on the scoreboard.
The Invermen had the better of the chances of the opening exchanges with Johnny McMurray fizzing just over on the volley from Tomas Cosgrove’s cross on the right with four minutes gone. Harry Flowers headed straight into the hands of Harry Doherty, again from a Cosgrove cross, on 12 minutes.
Larne opened the scoring not long after that as Davy McDaid picked up a loose ball from Gerard Kelly, played through McMurray but this time, the striker was on target as he rounded Doherty to roll the ball into an empty net on 16 minutes.
It was 2-0 within another four minutes, after Cosgrove was fouled on the edge of the box. Marty Donnelly floated in the resulting free-kick from the right-hand side and McDaid this time got the final touch to flick his header inside the far post.
Carrick’s only chance of note came on 22 through Reece Neale on the left, but Conor Devlin was down to save at his near post.
A blistering first half was rounded off as in the second minute of stoppage time as Dean Jarvis picked up the ball in the middle of the park and slipped the ball through to McDaid who made no mistake to round Doherty and slot the ball into the back of the net.
McDaid had a chance to make it a hat-trick early in the second half after just five minutes but he couldn’t keep his shot down, after Donnelly floated the ball over the top into the box.
The striker went close again just two minutes later when skipper Jeff Hughes crossed the ball to McDaid in the middle of the area but Doherty did well to block the effort with his feet.
With a quarter of an hour left, Cosgrove played the ball in low across goal and Mark Randall’s backside was enough to steer the ball home from close range to add to Carrick’s woes and make it 4-0.
It could very easily have been five only two minutes later as a delightful curling strike from Donnelly agonisingly came back off the inside of the upright.
Rangers then missed a chance for a consolation, with ex-Larne player Michael Smith slotting the ball the wrong side of the post, despite being well placed inside the box.
Rangers gave Larne their next opportunity on a plate with four minutes left of normal time as first a mistake from Daniel Magill gifted substitute Lee Lynch a stab at goal but his shot was well blocked by Magill before the ball fell to Randall who was denied by an excellent Doherty at full stretch.
Right at the death in the 90th minute, the drama continued as McDaid’s close-range header crashed off the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.
The game finished 4-0 and that’s another important three points in the quest to secure their top six place.
Larne: Devlin, Flowers, Kelly (Graham 79), Watson, Sule, McDaid, Donnelly, Cosgrove, Hughes (c), Jarvis (Randall 66), McMurray (Lynch 78)
Unused Subs: Ramsey, Tilney, Mitchell, Gilmour
Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Carson, Neale, Surgenor, Loughran, Faulkner (Hassin 61), G. Kelly, Smith, Cherry (Magill 52), Keke (Nixon 52), Anderson
Unused Subs: Nicholl, Doyle, McGreevy, E. Kelly
Man of the Match: Davy McDaid
Referee: Shane Andrews
Photo: Bill Guiller