Carrick Rangers 1-3 Larne
Larne manager Tiernan Lynch hailed his side’s resilience after seeing a depleted squad come from behind to secure a derby victory at Carrick Rangers.
The Invermen were missing seven players going into the game at the Loughview Leisure Arena and played the second half without any of their recognised central defenders as they ran out 3-1 winners.
David Cushley gave Carrick a deserved lead from the penalty spot on the half hour, but that didn’t last long as Larne roared back with goals from Tomas Cosgrove and Ronan Hale before David McDaid made sure of the points late on.
It moves Larne back into fourth place in the table, albeit having played two games more than Crusaders.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the players,” he said.
“They were superb to a man. They rolled their sleeves up, especially after going a goal down and it was a grind.
“It wasn’t one we’ll be looking back on in years to come for football reasons, but the heart and hunger they showed was superb.
“We looked a bit like a counter attack team as the game went on, but they galvanised themselves and got organised and we managed it really well.”
Carrick were the better side in the opening period as they looked to impose themselves on their visitors, and end their own five-game losing streak.
However, it took them until 14 minutes to fashion the first real opportunity of the day, which fell the way of former Crusaders attacker Cushley, who hooked a volley goalwards, which was narrowly deflected over for a corner.
Stuart Nixon’s long throw-ins were another threat for the home side. However, it was pace of the ex-Coleraine winger which led to the opening goal on 32 minutes.
Nixon got in behind the Larne rearguard and went down under a challenge from Graham Kelly.
Referee Jamie Robinson delayed before eventually pointing to the spot and Cushley stepped up to slot into the bottom left corner for the opening goal.
The goal sparked Larne into life and they were level six minutes later through a set piece of their own. Ben Doherty’s corner on the right found Tomas Cosgrove and he headed home unmarked.
Larne went into the half-time with the lead, after scoring two minutes into stoppage time.
From a Carrick corner the Invermen broke quickly, with John Herron finding Hale just inside the opposition’s half. He broke with pace, evading two Carrick defenders and when it opened up the opportunity for him to shoot he slotted home via the bottom left-hand post from 20 yards.
Albert Watson had to be withdrawn for Larne at half-time, meaning Larne played the second 45 with a mix of full-backs and rookie defender Nick Aretzis.
Carrick went direct in the second half in a bid to unsettle the makeshift defence, but it was the Invermen who looked more dangerous as the half wore on.
Ten minutes from time McDaid turned sharply inside the box, but his fierce drive was well tipped over by Matthew Skeet.
Larne wrapped up the points with five minutes to go. Doherty led the Larne break, with Carrick piling men forward, racing from halfway before unselfishly squaring for McDaid to tap home.
Carrick Rangers: Skeet, Forsythe, Surgenor, Ervin, Cushley, McGuckin (’67 Gibson), G Kelly, Cherry, Nixon (’73 E Kelly), Tilney, Anderson
Subs not used: Hogg, Gordon, Kalla, Hoy, Quinn
Larne: Ferguson, Kelly, Watson (’46 Scott), Herron, Hale, McDaid, Doherty, Lynch (’81 Nasseri), Mitchell, Cosgrove Aretzis
Subs not used: Argyrides, Lusty, Greer, Sloan, Curran
Referee: Jamie Robinson
Man of match: Tomas Cosgrove
Match rating: 7/10