A dramatic last minute own goal by Pascal Itter gave Larne the spoils in Tuesday’s friendly match against Chemnitzer FC at the Arena Mistrzow, Gniewino.
The goal was a well earned reward for the Inver Reds patience and persistence in a tight and testing encounter against the German Regionalliga Nordost Champions.
The game, which was originally due to kick off at 3.30pm (local time) was plunged into doubt when Arka Gdynia’s friendly against ZKS Olimpia Elblag at the same venue earlier that morning was abandoned after 55 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch. The kick off was delayed on several occasions and eventually started at 8pm (local time). When the game did get underway, conditions were still difficult. The pitch was soggy in parts, and ground staff were working right up to kick off to clear the remaining patches of standing water.
The Germans settled into the game more quickly and dominated possession in the early stages, but as the Inver Reds grew in confidence, they came into the game more and more. Both teams ultimately cancelled each other out in the opening period, with neither side managing a shot on target.
The closest the game came to a goal in the first half was when Erik Tallig saw his shot blocked by a flying Graham Kelly when the Chemnitzer midfielder was well placed to score. From the following corner, the ball broke to the back post, but Ioannis Karansidis shot wide.
Larne could only managed a few near misses and a half chance for Liam Hassin after 26 minutes.
Tiernan Lynch made nine changes at half time with only Shane McEleney and Graham Kelly playing the full 90 minutes. The Inver Men grew in confidence in the second half and became more of an attacking threat.
Marty Donnelly made an impact and had two excellent chances to score. The first came on 63 minutes. Cosgrove found Cillin Gilmour on the edge of the box, who cleverly laid the ball back to Donnelly. The midfielder curled a super left footed shot which beat the goalkeeper, but not the post.
With 20 minutes to go, Donnelly broke clear of the defence with Cillin Gilmour in close support. Larne’s number 11 chose to go it alone, but his shot was saved by Joshua Mross when Gilmour was arguably better placed to score.
Chemnitzer’s best chance of the game came with around five minutes to go when Itter’s cross was glanced by the post by Pelle Hoppe.
Itter became the villain of the piece in the last minute, however, when he contrived to divert Tomas Cosgrove’s cross into his own goal whilst under only mild pressure from Jonny McMurray.
Larne’s week long training camp continues, building up to Friday’s friendly against local Polish top flight side, Arka Gdynia. Kick off for the match is currently set for 11.30am BST (12.30pm Local). The players return home early on Saturday morning.
Larne: Mitchell, Trialist, Tilney, McEleney, Ramsey, Kelly, Hassin, Lynch, Hughes, McDaid, Stewart.
Subs (replacing all bar McEleney and Kelly at half time): Devlin, Watson, Sule, Randall, Donnelly, Graham, Cosgrove, McMurray, Gilmour.
Chemnitzer: Mross, Stosik (Langer 65), Schoppenhauer (Hoheneder 65), Reddemann (Frahn 65), Blumberg (Itter 65), Bonga (Garcia 45), Sarmov (Campulka 45), Karansidis (Mueller 65), Tallig (Hoppe 45), de Freitas (Milde 65), Bozic (Gesien 65).