The second East Antrim derby of the 2018/19 season gave Larne a comfortable win over Ballyclare Comrades at Dixon Park. After a sluggish first half, the away side put four past the Comrades with no reply. A hat-trick from Martin Donnelly helping the Inver Reds return to the top of the table after Dundela’s 4-1 loss at home to H&W Welders.
Early in the first half, Joe McWilliams crossed to Jason Johnston in the box with Conor Devlin spreading himself to neutralise the threat.
At the other end, Jeff Hughes’ long ball to David Scullion allowed the number eight to cross to Liam Hassin at the near post from the left on six minutes. Just before half an hour, Scullion lobbed the ball into the area with Tomas Cosgrove heading into the side netting.
The closest either side came to taking the lead was when Marty Donnelly’s shot hit the base of the post before being cleared.
It was Donnelly who gave a composed finish to place the ball past Kyle Rowe to open the scoring on 53 minutes, after neatly turning past the home defender.
Five minutes later, Donnelly rounded the keeper and slotted in at close range once more to double Larne’s lead.
With one of the few chances for the Comrades in the second half, coming from a corner, Eoin Kane passed back to Ballyclare skipper, Dean Youle but all the captain could do was shoot straight into Devlin’s hands.
Donnelly added his third from the penalty spot 67 minutes in, after being tripped in the box by Michael McQuitty.
With 80 minutes gone, David McDaid chipped the ball to Donnelly in the 18-yard box with Donnelly driving his shot over the bar, before McDaid was denied with a fine point blank save from Rowe.
Eight minutes from time, substitute Thomas Stewart finished from a neat angle to make it four and condemn the home side to their third consecutive defeat.
Ballyclare Comrades: Rowe, Crane, Wright, McQuitty, McWilliams, Kane, Gray, Johnston, Willigham, Robinson, Youle
Subs: McIlveen, Tully, Donnelly, Kirk, Gault
Larne: Devlin, Sule, Finnegan, Kelly, Scullion (Stuart), Donnelly, Tilney (Stewart), Hassin (McDaid), McNally, Cosgrove, Hughes
Unused subs: Dougherty, McEleney
Referee: Niall Gallagher
Larne are on the road again on Saturday 6th October with a trip to Limavady United. Kick off at the Limavady Showgrounds is 3pm.
Peter Wilson reports from Dixon Park