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Lynch staying calm despite watching Larne's unbeaten run come to an end at hands of Balmer-led Ballymena

 

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Paul McElroy was key in helping Ballymena to victory over Larne

Paul McElroy was key in helping Ballymena to victory over Larne

Paul McElroy was key in helping Ballymena to victory over Larne

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch was refusing to press the panic button after seeing his side lose their 14-game unbeaten run and getting knocked off top spot in a 1-0 home defeat by Ballymena United.

Kofi Balmer's 80th-minute header clinched a hard-fought victory for the Braidmen and inflicted Larne's first Premiership defeat at Inver Park in more than a year.

The home side had a number of chances to break the deadlock at 0-0, but a combination of the woodwork, heroic blocks and Jordan Williamson in the United goal denied them.

Lynch felt his side did everything but score.

"I thought we deserved to win the game, to be honest," was his assessment. "We had the better chances overall, but great credit to Ballymena. The longer they stay in the game, the longer they know one chance is all they need.

"I couldn't fault any of our boys today. The effort and commitment was there and, certainly in the second half, we had the better chances.

"We have to take it on the chin and move on.

"Anyone who thought you were going to win every week, that was never going to happen.

"There are too many good teams and too many good managers at this level for that to be the case."

Opposite number David Jeffrey said: "No one could say we were hanging on or it was a lucky 1-0 win.

"As in any 1-0 win, you need a little bit of good fortune and when Larne hit the bar we got it, but no one could say we didn't deserve it.

"We defended resolutely, worked desperately hard in midfield and chased everything up top - in fact, we had opportunities ourselves. Make no mistake, Larne are a first-class side, they play really good football but I thought we also played good football ourselves."

Larne started brightly and had half chances through Jeff Hughes and Davy McDaid, but it was United who missed the best chance of the opening period when Paul McElroy lashed over from six yards out.

After the break, Mark Randall brought a fine stop out of Williamson and, from the rebound, Marty Donnelly checked back inside on his left foot and crashed a shot off the angle of the post and crossbar.

Five minutes later and Larne were left wondering how they weren't ahead with Randall again involved. This time the ball broke to the former Arsenal midfielder eight yards out but a brave block from Balmer saw off the danger.

After United defender Ciaran Kelly saw his header cleared off the line at the other end, Donnelly almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion, but his swerving left-footed effort was kept out by Williamson at full stretch.

Despite the pressure from the home side, it was United who would claim the only goal of the game on 80 minutes.

Ross Redman's free-kick from the left flank was a pinpoint delivery and Balmer had the simple task of heading home from inside the six-yard box.

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