Nortel’s only two victories in amongst eight defeats had been in the Clarence Cup, but that comfort is no more for the Premier Division side as they exited the competition after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat by Larne Tech Old Boys of 1a at Dennis Harvey Park.
“Fair play to Larne Tech, they were well-drilled and dangerous going forward; they were worth the win,” admitted Nortel manager, Lee McCartney.
“We were the better team in the opening half-hour, without creating clear-cut chances – and I just couldn’t believe it at half-time, going off 3-1 down after us being all over them for most of the half.
“We changed things round in the second half and had a lot of the play. We battled well, but we’re not getting the ball to the forwards quickly enough, badly missing the injured Mark Wilkinson up front, and another big blow was losing central defender Ryan Cardwell in the first half. Some of our better openings fell to Jackie Moore, who will come good, but he’s just back from injury and has played little football in a year.
“We even had to have a goalkeeper, Alan Causby on the bench for neither him nor Stephen Murray, who started, are fully fit – and we’ve got our other keeper Kris Malone also out injured.”
Larne Tech boss Johnny Hastings said he was well pleased the result and the performance. “We were a bit flat at the start, but we were good value for the win. A few more goals wouldn’t have flattered us either,” he said. “Scott McNally hit the bar, Aaron Mulvenna had one cleared off the line; Reece McGinley had an overhead kick superbly saved by the keeper, while Neil Webb fizzed one wide in the last minute.”
Dylan Monaghan’s opener was cancelled out by Glenn Hand, but back came the Tech through Lee Thompson and Niall McAllister. Substitute Reece McGinley rounded it all off with a fourth 10 minutes from time.
Both sides have must-win games on Saturday. Nortel are back in Larne, away to Crumlin Star at The Cliff, hoping to avoid a seventh successive league defeat. Star were the last side Nortel took league points off, with a 2-1 victory at the Factory Grounds in October.
“It’s not going to be easy, especially after the run we’ve had,” McCartney acknowledged. “The 3G surface isn’t easy to play on, especially for anyone carrying a knock, but we ironed out a few issues after the match and we’re hoping to get a reaction on Saturday.”
The Tech, currently in eighth place with games in hand, are away to 1A pacesetters Abbey Villa.