Belfast Telegraph

Larne proved a point with bounce-back win over Ballymena, says Lynch

Johnny McMurray
Johnny McMurray

By Ian Cahoon

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch felt his side proved a point in their late 3-2 victory away to Ballymena United.

Substitute Conor McKendry popped up with the winner three minutes into stoppage time, after the Invermen were twice pegged back in the match.

After just one point from their two festive home games, Lynch felt it was an important victory.

"It was a big game for us," Lynch said. "We were disappointed after the Cliftonville game on Saturday, where we felt we deserved more from the game.

"We had a bit of a point to prove, but I think we did that.

"We conceded the sort of two goals that we have done a lot of recently, but we picked ourselves up and stuck to our task and got our rewards for it.

"Conor McKendry is a big part of what we're doing here and it's all about introducing him to senior football at the right speed, but I was delighted for him to pop up with the winner."

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The home side started the brighter of the two and had two half chances to open the scoring inside the first 15 minutes through Ross Lavery.

However, they spurned a golden opportunity with 18 minutes gone. Fuad Sule misjudged his back pass, putting Albert Watson in trouble.

Watson's attempted headed clearance was then intercepted by Cathair Friel. As the striker looked to round Conor Devlin, the former Cliftonville stopper was quickly off his line to dispossess Friel and avert the danger.

It was the visitors who took the lead with 31 minutes on the clock.

Declan Carville went down inside the Larne box at one end but, much to the frustration of the home supporters, referee Tony Clarke waved play on.

From there Larne broke quickly, and Johnny McMurray got the ball 30 yards from goal. He elected to take the shot on the half volley, which deceived Jordan Williamson and nestled in the back of the net.

Ballymena were level on 57 minutes when they worked the ball to the byline on the left. Leroy Millar's cross was met on the edge of the box by Ross Lavery, and his left-footed half volley sailed past Devlin.

Larne retook the lead on 70 minutes, and again it's one Williamson will want to forget.

A pass back to the goalkeeper was a little short and as Williamson attempted to clear with his feet, McMurray charged it down to deflect in his second.

Williamson redeemed himself with 12 minutes to go, as he tipped Fuad Sule's goal-bound effort round the post.

United hit back with just five minutes left on the clock. When Larne failed to clear their lines from a corner, up popped Andy McGrory and he caught a sweet left-footed volley 15 yards out, which left Devlin with no chance.

The game looked like it was petering out until the third minute of stoppage time, when sub Chris Ramsey was upended.

Fellow sub McKendry sent the ball in, but it evaded everyone and ended up in the net.

Ballymena United: Williamson, Friel, McCullough (Knowles 90), A Burns (Whiteside 83), Carville (Kane 72), McGrory, Ervin, Millar, Glendinning, Kelly, Lavery

Unused subs: Addis, Mayse, McGinty, Kane

Larne: Devlin, Flowers, Kelly, Watson, Sule, Donnelly (McDaid 60), Tilney (McKendry 83), Lynch, Cosgrove (Ramsey 90), Hughes, McMurray

Unused subs: Mitchell, McEleney, Randall, Graham

Referee: Tony Clarke (Portadown)

Man of the match: Johnny McMurray

Match rating: 7/10

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