Report by Peter Wilson
Larne had to work hard to snatch a late 2-1 win over Glenavon in a tense and dramatic game at Inver Park. A Michael O’Connor free-kick at the end of the first half gave the Lurgan Blues the lead at the break. It was two Larne substitutes who delivered Larne their equaliser and winner in the end. Ronan Hale’s goal mid-way through the second half drew the Invermen level and Johnny McMurray snatched the victory right at the death.
The game also saw a feisty second half with Glenavon’s Sean Ward sent off in second half stoppage time.
Larne kicked off in the first half and were attacking the Church End.
Both sides were trying to settle into the game in the early period of the first half and Larne had their best chance in the 17th minute when Lee Lynch made a good run down the left-hand side. He squared the ball into Mark Randall who moved up from a deep position. The midfielder could only slice the ball wide to the right of goal.
After a period of sustained pressure from the Invermen in the Glenavon half, there were no goals to show for it.
Just after half an hour, an inswinging Randall corner from the left found John Herron whose glancing header edged wide of the near post.
The visitors had a brilliant chance to nip in front on 34 when O’Connor floated in a free-kick about 10 yards into the Larne half from the right-hand side. Danny Purkis did very well to stab the ball across the face of goal at the back post and the hosts just about cleared it out for a corner.
About two minutes later, Graham Kelly raced into the left-hand side of the area and fired straight at Jonny Tuffey at his near post before Herron’s back heel also went straight at the Glenavon stopper.
The Inver Reds had another fantastic opportunity to go ahead with six minutes to go until the break as Marty Donnelly finished off a lovely move by playing the ball across the six yard box and Davy McDaid sliced just wide of the left post from about five yards out.
Glenavon took an unexpected lead right on the stroke of half-time with O’Connor sending a free-kick at the right angle of the Invermen’s penalty area over Conor Devlin’s head into the top left corner.
Half-time: Larne 0 Glenavon 1
In the home side’s first chance of the second half, Donnelly took a 24-yard free-kick with his left foot but the ball dipped over the bar.
A minute later, Donnelly cut in down the left near the by-line and hammered his shot towards goal but O’Connor charged it down, deflecting behind for a corner.
Only seconds later, Randall delivered the corner in from the right and Josh Robinson’s point blank header was just over the crossbar.
Hale pulled the Inver Reds level with 71 minutes gone as the forward picked the ball up wide on the left and unleashed a powerful curling shot across Tuffey and into the net.
McMurray grabbed the win right at the end of the game, as Fuad Sule found the striker on the right flank and he drove the ball home into the bottom left corner from 14 yards.
Full-time: Larne 2 Glenavon 1
Larne: Devlin, Kelly, Watson (c), Robinson, Herron, Sule, Randall (Hale 67’), McDaid, Donnelly (McMurray 80’), Lynch (Hughes 67’), Cosgrove
Subs not used: C Mitchell, Scott, A Mitchell, Wade Slater
Glenavon: Tuffey, Larmour, Doyle, Purkis (Moorhouse 75’), Snoddy, O’Connor, Fitzpatrick, O’Mahony, Singleton (c), Garrett, Ward (Sent off 90 +3’)
Subs not used: Coates, Byrne, Jenkins, Harmon, Norton, Rea
Referee: Steven Gregg
Up next for Larne is a game against second-placed Linfield on Friday 11 December at Inver Park (7.45pm).