Peter Wilson reports from Shamrock Park
LARNE were made to hang on to clinch a narrow win over Portadown at Shamrock Park, which saw them open up an 18 point lead at the top of the Championship.
Second half oals from Chris Ramsey and David McDaid secured the victory for the Invermen, but they were nervous moments after Adam Salley had pulled one back for the home side.
Both sides went in goalless at the break after few chances in the first period. The visitor’s defence was opened up by Chris Lavery in the opening 10 minutes; playing through Aaron Duke with the linesman raising his flag for offside.
Lee Lynch squared the ball into the box shortly before half an hour; but David McDaid’s touch blocked by a Ports defender, while Liam Hassin drew a fine save from Declan Dunne.
It took Larne nine minutes to open the scoring in the second half; Paddy McNally’s downward header from a Lynch corner saved by Dunne but Chris Ramsey pounced to bundle the ball home to make it 1-0.
Aaron Duke blew a chance for the home side to equalise; volleying wide from a Greg Hall cross on the hour.
The Inver Reds duly doubled their advantage on 80 minutes; McDaid curling in a spectacular free-kick into the top corner, after Liam Hassin was fouled.
The Ports pulled one back a minute later though; Conor Devlin getting himself down low to deny substitute Ryan Carmichael, with Adam Sailey on hand to tap in the follow-up.
Passing up an opportunity to salvage a point for the hosts, Salley broke clear of the defence, with Devlin spreading himself to this time deny the goalscorer.
Larne held on for all three points, which saw Portadown drop to third place and leave Larne potentially two games from the title.
Portadown: Dunne, McCallum, Larkin, Lavery (Carmichael), Sailey, Braniff, Duke, Hall, Thompson, Wilson, McKenna
Unused subs: Murphy, Carson, Neil, Bradley
Larne: Devlin, Sule, Ramsey, Kelly, McDaid, Donnelly (Igiehon), Tilney (Tear), Lynch, Hassin (Stuart), McNally, Cosgrove
Unused subs: Dougherty, Stewart
What’s up next?
Larne return to Inver Park on Saturday 16 February as they host Dundela. Kick off is 3pm.