Peter Wilson reports from Inver Park
LARNE earned a comfortable win over the Comrades in the Boxing Day derby as the home side maintained their 16 point cushion at the top.
David McDaid, Chris Ramsey and Martin Donnelly all scored for the home side as the Inver Men achieved a second derby win over Ballyclare this season. The victory comes ahead of another East Antrim derby, against Carrick Rangers, on Saturday.
Larne probed for the opening goal early on David McDaid had the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled offside.
With 24 minutes gone, Martin Donnelly crossed the ball into David Scullion in the box; with the midfielder’s header going straight into the hands of Patrick Flood.
The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock on 27 minutes; Samuel McIlveen whipping his free-kick in from the right but Adam Wright couldn’t make contact to convert from close range.
Once more, McDaid was unable to beat the offside trap, firing in at the back post from Donnelly’s pin-point cross, only to see the flag raised again. McDaid then beat Flood in the air on the edge of the box six minutes later, but drove his shot across the face of goal.
On 51 minutes Larne managed to take lead, as Donnelly delivered his free-kick in from the edge of the box with Chris Ramsey nodding the ball home to make it 1-0.
McDaid finally got his goal 16 minutes from time, rounding the keeper to slot home after being set up by Donnelly.
The away side cut the deficit several minutes later; Joe Tully’s superbly struck free-kick beating Conor Devlin from 20 yards.
However, it wasn’t the last pinpoint free-kick and a minute later Marty Donnelly guided his effort in off the post a minute in to add the Inver Reds’ third of the afternoon.
Larne: Devlin (c), Sule (Hassin 81), Ramsey, McEleney, Kelly, Scullion (Stuart 66), McDaid (Gilmour 75), Donnelly, Tilney, McCosgrove, Hughes
Unused subs: Dougherty, McNally
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood, Woods, Crane, McIlveen, Wright, Dobbin (c), Trussell, Gray, Brown, Willighan, Robinson (Tully 70)
Unused subs: McKnight, McWilliams, Donnelly, Kirk
Referee: Christopher Morrison
Man of the Match: Martin Donnelly
What’s up next?
The Inver Men make the short trip to Carrick for their final game of 2018 on Saturday 29December. Kick off at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena is 3pm.