Belfast Telegraph

Watch: More Mark Randall magic keeps Larne top of the league

Carrick Rangers 1 Larne 2

Huge impact: Mark Randall is all smiles after his winner
Huge impact: Mark Randall is all smiles after his winner

By Ian Cahoon

Two pieces of magic from Mark Randall settled a scrappy east Antrim derby at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

The former Arsenal midfielder produced an exquisite pass to help create the opener, which Johnny McMurray tucked away.

After a Caolan Loughran equaliser, Randall scored the winning goal when he tucked away a free-kick from 22 yards.

It was a pretty uneventful derby, but one which Tiernan Lynch's men deserved to win.

The opening period began in scrappy fashion, with neither side finding their range early on.

Carrick had the ball in the net on 14 minutes through Mark Surgenor, however it was ruled out for what looked like a soft infringement on Conor Devlin.

A minute later and the visitors took the lead. Midfield maestro Randall picked out the run of Tomas Cosgrove on the right with an exquisite 60-yard pass.

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Cosgrove took the ball in his stride to cross for McMurray, and the former Ballymena United striker nodded home his first goal for the club.

Larne were in the ascendancy, and should have doubled their lead on 24 minutes.

The industrious Fuad Sule slipped a fine pass through to Lee Lynch, but the midfielder's half-volley was beaten away by Aaron Hogg in the home goal.

Lynch's men were left to rue this as Carrick restored parity within two minutes.

Loughran's free-kick from just outside the angle of the box took a deflection, before going into the net off Devlin's far post.

The remaining talking point of the half came right on the whistle for the break, after a heavy tackle from home skipper Surgenor resulted in a melee.

Once the dust settled Surgenor was relieved to see referee Steven Gregg produce just a yellow card.

The Invermen came out to play at a higher tempo at the start of the second half, and twice went close to regaining the lead within the opening five minutes of the second period.

Goalscorer McMurray flashed a left-footed effort just wide, before Cosgrove got himself into a position to fizz the ball low and hard across the six-yard box, but no one could get the touch.

At the other end, Carrick's best chance came when a loose ball from a corner fell to Willie Faulkner, but he blazed over.

The game looked to be petering out for a draw, until the moment of magic from Randall.

A free-kick was awarded 22 yards out, and Randall curled in via the underside of the crossbar.

CARRICK RANGERS: Hogg, Neale, Surgenor, Loughran, Chapman, Faulkner, M Kelly, D Kelly (Rodgers 7'), Nixon, Ferrin, Smith. Unused subs: McAuley, Carson, Magill, McDermott, Gray, Anderson.

LARNE: Devlin, Kelly, Watson, McEleney, Sule, Randall (Hassin '88), McDaid, Lynch (Donnelly '71), Graham, Cosgrove, McMurray (Stewart '75). Unused subs: Mitchell, Ramsey, Stewart, Tilney, Andrade.

Referee: Steven Gregg

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