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Fairytale continues as Larne triumph on European debut

Bala Town 0 Larne 1


Milestone moment: Larne’s David McDaid (left) scores his side’s winning goal against Bala. Credit: Zac Goodwin/PA

Milestone moment: Larne’s David McDaid (left) scores his side’s winning goal against Bala. Credit: Zac Goodwin/PA


Milestone moment: Larne’s David McDaid (left) scores his side’s winning goal against Bala. Credit: Zac Goodwin/PA

Davy McDaid wrote his name into Larne’s history books as he scored the winning goal in their 1-0 win away to Bala Town.

The victory — secured by McDaid’s second minute strike — came in the club’s first European game in their 132-year history, following last month’s play-off victory against Cliftonville.

Tiernan Lynch’s men are now well placed in the Europa Conference League first qualifying round tie ahead of next Thursday’s second leg at Inver Park.

It was a dream start for Larne, as they broke the deadlock with just 93 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Andy Mitchell floated a ball over the top for McDaid to run on to and, after defender Tony Stephens had misjudged the flight of the pass, the striker side-footed a lovely effort over onrushing goalkeeper Alex Ramsay.

Lynch handed debuts to three summer signings in the form of goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson, Kofi Balmer and Cian Bolger.

All three looked assured as the home side grew into the game and tested the Larne rearguard with a series of set-pieces.

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The closest Bala came to an equaliser arrived 10 minutes before the break when ex-Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards rattled the crossbar from Kieran Smith’s right-wing cross, but the assistant flagged for offside.

At the other end, McDaid continued to be in the thick of the action when he flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal.

The Welsh side started the second half brightly and were almost level within three minutes of the restart. Skipper Chris Venables found a yard of space and his low effort tested former Linfield stopper Ferguson, but the goalkeeper showed a safe pair of hands to hold the effort.

Four minutes later, McDaid was the architect of a good opportunity for Larne as a cross with the outside of his foot found Dean Jarvis on the left, but the angle was too tight for him to seriously test Ramsay.

Lynch’s side grew in confidence as the second half wore on and looked the most likely to grab the next goal. The had a good chance to do exactly that through substitute Conor McKendry on 72 minutes.

He beat his man on his way into the box and tested Ramsay, but the goalkeeper palmed it just beyond the lurking McDaid inside the six-yard box.

With 10 minutes left, fellow sub Ronan Hale shot narrowly wide but the visitors held on comfortably to take an advantage back to Inver.

Bala: Ramsay, Woods (Smith, 72 mins), Stephens, Spittle, Mendes (Leslie, 77 mins), Evans (Bauress, 77 mins), Smith (Peate, 90 mins), Rutherford, Edwards, Venables, Shannon. Unused subs: Lloyd, Walker-Rice, Kay,

Larne: Ferguson, Balmer (Watson, 73 mins), Sule, Randall (McKendry, 60 mins), McDaid (Hale, 73 mins), Lynch, Mitchell, Bolger, Cosgrove, Hughes, Jarvis. Unused subs: Argyrides, Kelly, Robinson, Herron, Donnelly, Scott, Lusty.

Referee: Mohammad Al-Emara (Finland)

Man of the match: Jeff Hughes

Match rating: 7/10

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