| 7.2°C Belfast


They may be nasty and nice but Larne are going to be tough nut to crack this season

Steven Beacom



Close

Davy McDaid had a controversial night before scoring late for Larne against Linfield.

Davy McDaid had a controversial night before scoring late for Larne against Linfield.

Davy McDaid had a controversial night before scoring late for Larne against Linfield.

Larne are the real deal alright. They are title contenders and then some.

Right now they look the team to beat in the Irish Premiership having moved four points clear at the top of the table thanks to their 3-1 comeback victory over champions Linfield.

There's something different about Tiernan Lynch's team this season.

They continue to play attractive football and are easy on the eye but there's an edge to them too. NASTY and NICE. It could prove to be a winning combination come the end of the campaign.

Approaching the hour mark it looked as though Larne would suffer their first defeat of the season with the visitors ahead through a cracking Shayne Lavery strike but the home side found a way to win. It's becoming a habit.

In the 59th minute minute left back Graham Kelly roared forward and cut inside curling a right foot effort into the net to equalise, admitting post-match that it was a cross and a shot, before Marty Donnelly struck number two on 73 minutes capitalising on brilliant hold-up play in attack from Davy McDaid.

As well as showing fight, fire and producing some fabulous football, there was also good fortune for Larne which always helps. Donnelly's decisive strike was deflected in off Jamie Mulgrew past young goalkeeper David Walsh at the near post.

Then, in the dying moments, McDaid won a soft penalty and smashed it in himself much to the joy of the 500 Larne supporters allowed into Inver Park as part of the new NI Executive regulations.

Close

Graham Kelly scores Larne’s first goal

Graham Kelly scores Larne’s first goal

Graham Kelly scores Larne’s first goal

McDaid provided an assist and scored one on a glorious night for owner Kenny Bruce, manager Lynch and their team, but the striker should not have been on the pitch when he delivered those match defining moments.

He clearly ought to have been sent off early on following his shocking foul on Blues skipper Mulgrew. Referee Ian McNabb was in a good position to see the incident yet somehow managed to miss what was a nasty high challenge.

It was a red card all night long.

Given that another Irish League official, Jamie Robinson, reversed a decision days after Linfield's league game with Glenavon last month, which saw Blues striker Christy Manzinga being handed a three- match ban by the Irish FA, one wonders will referee McNabb feel he should do the same following last might's decision.

McDaid wasn't the only Larne player to put his foot in though. Captain Jeff Hughes, midfield dynamo Fuad Sule and John Herron didn't hold back against Linfield weighing in with some tasty tackles while Albert Watson and Josh Robinson were as hard as nails at the back.

David Healy was none too happy with some decisions by McNabb.

The Linfield boss had words with the ref at the end of the match and got a booking for his troubles.

That's two league defeats in three games for the Blues and three losses in a row to Lynch's side.

Linfield will regroup and come back strong but will know Larne are going to be one tough nut to crack this season.

Belfast Telegraph


Privacy