Peter Wilson reports from Inver Park
Larne made it three wins from three Danske Bank Premiership games as they secured a dominant 2-0 victory over Ballymena United in a tense and hotly contested derby at Inver Park.
A quickfire brace from substitute Davy McDaid was enough to get Larne across the line in a game which at times threatened to boil over.
Larne started off on the front foot and came very close to the opener just after 11 minutes with Josh Robinson’s header from a Mark Randall corner drawing a superb reaction save from Ballymena ‘keeper Ross Glendinning, who tipped it on the bar. Ronan Hale then tried to bundle the follow-up across the line but was held up by the defence.
On 22 minutes, it was another Randall corner in from the right and this time it was Albert Watson who headed it down on target but Glendinning once again came to Ballymena’s rescue with another great save.
Shortly before half-time, Glendinning was on hand to deny Hale who took a good first touch and got his shot away after a great Marty Donnelly ball over the top. Lee Lynch had his follow-up blocked by United skipper Jim Ervin.
Half-time: Larne 0 Ballymena United 0
The home side got off to another fast start in the second period and thought they had scored five minutes in when Randall’s quick thinking set Lynch through on goal. He slotted it neatly into the bottom left but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.
In the 53rd minute, Marty Donnelly made a good run down the inside channel and flicked the ball in from the right. The ball was eventually stopped on the line by a combination of Glendinning and Ballymena defenders.
On 69 minutes, Randall tried a speculative shot from range, but his effort dipped just over the bar.
With 73 minutes gone, Davy McDaid came on for Ronan Hale.
McDaid made an immediate impact, just a minute later as he controlled Lynch’s ball under his feet and dispatched a left-foot finish into the bottom corner, across Glendinning.
With 15 minutes left, the striker got on the end of a ball in behind the defence from Marty Donnelly and allowed the ball to drop before slotting in past the ‘keeper.
The visitors had a good opportunity on 89 minutes when Ryan Strain swept in a good delivery from the right wing towards the near post but Kenny Kane couldn’t get on the end of it.
Full-time: Larne 2 Ballymena United 0
Larne: Devlin, Kelly (Jarvis 46’), Watson (c), Robinson, Herron, Sule, Randall (Scott 81’), Hale (McDaid 73’), Donnelly, Lynch, Cosgrove
Unused Subs: C Mitchell, A Mitchell, Wade Slater, Hughes
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Redman, McKeown (K Kane 87’), Winchester, McElroy, McCartan, Strain, Balmer, Hume, Ervin (c), Kelly
Unused Subs: Williamson, A Kane, Addis, Harpur, Friel, McCready
Referee: Tim Marshall
MOTM: Josh Robinson
Next up for the Invermen is Tuesday’s County Antrim Shield semi-final at home to Linfield, at a sold out Inver Park. Live streaming of this match will be available.