Peter Wilson reports from Inver Park
Larne came back from a goal down at half-time to earn 2-2 draw with Coleraine at Inver Park.
David McDaid’s early goal was cancelled out by Eoin Bradley’s effort, before Josh Carson gave Coleraine a slender lead at the interval. Mark Randall pulled Larne level in the second half to ensure the game would end all square.
The game began with a minute’s applause for the late Jerry Thompson, the former Larne player who died this week aged just 24.
Larne began brightly and were in front after just eight minutes; after a mistake at the back, David McDaid picked up the loose ball and squared to strike partner Johnny McMurray but his initial touch couldn’t beat Chris Johns in the Coleraine goal. However McDaid made sure of the goal as he rolled the follow-up into the net. As he celebrated with his teammates, he picked up the replica number three shirt in memory of his late team-mate Thompson.
There were no further chances of note for the next quarter of an hour or so but that changed with 22 minutes gone; a dangerous cross from Marty Donnelly ended with McDaid testing Johns but Fuad Sule was offside from the rebound.
Coleraine’s best chance arrived with eight minutes before break as Oran Kearney’s men cut the Invermen wide open down the middle, allowing Ben Doherty to slip through but Conor Devlin produced a superb save to preserve Larne’s advantage.
However, the Bannsiders got their equaliser one minute later with Larne failing to clear their lines, allowing Eoin Bradley inside to swivel and rifle into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Conor Devlin pulled off another fantastic save, this time denying Ian Parkhill from close range.
Little more than a minute later, the visitors took the lead as Larne again failed to deal with a ball into the area from Jamie Glackin’s corner as Bradley headed back across goal enabling Josh Carson to poke in at the back post.
There was nothing much to report from the early exchanges in the second half until the 63rd minute when after a defensive mistake, Doherty broke through into the box for Coleraine but skipper Jeff Hughes produced an excellent challenge to rescue the situation.
Mark Randall drew Larne level six minutes after the hour as he beat McMurray to a through ball and kept his composure to fire low past Johns.
With three minutes to go of regular time, Bradley should have won it for the away side one-on-one with Devlin but somehow the goalkeeper managed to deny him a certain goal.
Larne’s unbeaten run in December continues following on from last week’s 3-1 away victory over Glenavon. The focus now turns to Warrenpoint Town next weekend as the team travel to Milltown to face Barry Gray’s charges. Kick off on Saturday 21 December is 3pm.
Larne: Devlin, Flowers, Kelly, Watson, Ramsey, Sule, Randall (Lynch 79), McDaid, Donnelly, Hughes (c), McMurray
Unused Subs: Mitchell, McEleney, Tilney, McKendry, Graham, Gilmour
Coleraine: Johns, Canning, Douglas, Jarvis, Doherty, Bradley, Carson, McConaghie, Parkhill, Glackin (O’Donnell 79), Traynor
Unused subs: Gallagher, McLaughlin, Gawne, Maciulaitis, Tennant
Man of the Match: Conor Devlin
Referee: Shane Andrews
Photo: Bill Guiller