Joy and despair as Davy McDaid doubles Larne's lead (Picture: Larne Football Club)
Saturday, 09 February 2019
Larne's commanding lead at the top of the Bluefin Sport Championship extended to 18 points with victory over Portadown at Shamrock Park.
The sides traded chances during the opening quarter-of-an-hour with Marty Donnelly seeing an effort from outside the box saved by Declan Dunne while Chris Lavery's volley was blocked.
That trend continued as the half progressed, Ross Larkin just missed out on converting an Aaron Duke throw-in while, for Larne, Lee Lynch hooked the ball wide from the edge of the box.
Larne began to enjoy the better opportunities with David McDaid, Ben Tilney, Liam Hassin and Donnelly again all being denied by the Ports defence.
Kevin Braniff came close for the Ports early in the second half but Conor Devlin saved his shot from distance at the second attempt.
However, the deadlock was broken in Larne's favour on 55 minutes when Chris Ramsey tucked the ball home after Ports keeper Dunne could only parry a corner to his feet.
Matthew Tipton's side might have levelled on the hour but Duke volleyed narrowly wide from Greg Hall's cross while, a little after that, Adam Salley was played through by Braniff but Devlin saved with his legs.
Larne doubled their advantage with ten minutes left in spectacular fashion through McDaid who gave Dunne no chance with an expertly struck free-kick from the edge of the area into the top corner.
Portadown pulled a goal back sixty seconds later, however, when Salley pounced on the loose ball to tuck home the rebound from Liam McKenna's initially saved low effort.
Pushing hard for the equaliser, McKenna headed just over from another Duke throw before Ryan Carmichael couldn't get a strong enough connection to a Braniff cross right at the end.
Portadown: Dunne, McCallum, Larkin, Lavery, Salley, Braniff, Duke, Hall, Thompson, Wilson, McKenna subs Murphy (not used), Carson (not used), Neill (not used), Bradley (not used), Carmichael (replaced Lavery 66)
Larne: Devlin, Ramsey, Sule, Kelly, McDaid, Tilney, Donnelly, Lynch, Hassin, McNally, Cosgrove subs Dougherty (not used), Stewart (not used), Stuart (replaced Hassin 90), Tear (replaced Tilney 73), Igiehon (replaced Donnelly 78)
Referee: Chris Morrison