By Peter Wilson
LARNE overcame an improved Welders side at Tillysburn Park to maintain their massive 18 point lead at the top of the Championship with six games left to play. Despite recording yet another win, Tiernan Lynch’s men will have to wait a fortnight to try to clinch the league title against Ballinamallard United as Carrick Rangers’ comeback at home to Dundela denied the Invermen the title.
Both sides started the game toe-to-toe with Jack O’Mahony blazing over to the left of goal early on to waste a good opportunity to put Larne under pressure, with David Scullion sending his volley narrowly wide at the other end.
However it was the visitors who scored first on 24 minutes; the goalkeeper rooted to the spot as Benny Igiehon held off several Welders defenders to fire home a half volley.
Two minutes later the lead was almost doubled, but Paddy McNally saw his header come crashing off the bar.
The home side went close nine minutes into the second half; David Rainey heading downward but Michael Dougherty was on hand to make the save.
Just before the hour mark, Larne had a chance to double their advantage with Thomas Stewart’s low drive being pushed behind by Ryan Brown after good interplay in the build-up.
Rainey was wasteful on 67 from an ideally placed free-kick, opting to strike it low instead of going over the wall.
Chris Ramsey was next to threaten, but his powerful header was too close to goalkeeper Brown.
Referee Mark Dillon pointed straight to the spot with less than 15 minutes to go after Igiehon was brought down in the box. Substitute David McDaid stepped up to slot down the middle with Brown failing to get a good enough of touch to keep out the striker’s 18th goal of the season.
The Welders searched for a way back into the game but couldn’t find a way past Dougherty as Larne took all three points away from Tillysburn Park.
H&W Welders: Brown, McMurtry, Armstrong, McMillan, Spence, Deans, Davidson, Morrow (Dornan), Ferguson, Rainey (Prentice), O’Mahony
Unused subs: Gardiner, Hall, Arthurs
Larne: Dougherty, Ramsey, McEleney, Scullion, Stewart (McDaid), Stuart (Hughes), Tilney, Hassin, McNally (Kelly), Tear, Igiehon
Unused subs: Devlin, Cosgrove
Referee: Mark Dillon