JBE LEAGUE CUP: Ports prove too strong for Larne

Guillaume Keke

Guillaume Keke

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Larne bowed out of the JBE Cup going down 4-1 after extra-time to Portadown but the scoreline flattered the visitors.

Inver boss Davy McAlinden can be immensely proud of his players who had chances to win the game in normal time.

League Cup action between Larne FC and Portadown at Inver Park. INLT 35-016-PSB

League Cup action between Larne FC and Portadown at Inver Park. INLT 35-016-PSB

Portadown had led into injury-time before debutant Guillaume Keke struck for the Reds. The Premiership outfit then bagged three goals in the second half of extra-time to make the tie safe.

“I am proud of the players and based on the chances we created we should have won in normal time. We equipped ourselves very well but then it caught up with us and knocked the momentum out of us when they scored the second and third goals,” said McAlinden.

“I can’t have any complaints and when you see the paying punters showing their appreciation of our efforts, hunger and desire that is all you can ask for. We have shown we can compete with one of the top sides in the country.”

Larne pressed from the off and Keke shot narrowly wide after five minutes.

Portadown had the ball in the net from a free-kick on 26 minutes but it was ruled out for offside.

Paul Maguire was only inches away from giving Larne the lead on 32 minutes but his ground shot from Conal McGrandles’s pass was the wrong side of the post.

The visitors took the lead on 54 minutes. A free-kick from Chris Casement wasn’t dealt with by Paddy Flood allowing Darren Murray to bury the rebound.

With the game in injury-time a throw-in on the right fell to Keke who twisted and turned before firing low into the net.

Portadown then regained the advantage when captain Michael Gault rose to head home a Ross Redman corner. It knocked the stuffing out of Larne who fell further behind when substitute Marcio Soares scored an absolute cracker with his first touch after coming off the bench.

Larne continued to press and it took an outstanding save from Billy Brennan to keep out a bullet header from Keke.

Murray then completed the scoring with a fine individual effort on 111 minutes to kill off the resilient challenge from the home side.

LARNE: Flood, Bradley (Robinson 81), Smith (Donnelly 88), McClean, Rodgers, McMullan, Irvine, Gillan, Maguire, Keke, McGrandless (McCabe 70).

PORTADOWN: Brennan, Casement, Redman, Breen (Ramsey 21), Mackle, Oman, Gault, Murray, Twigg (Soares 118), Garrett, Richardson (Stewart 103).

REFEREE: Ross Dunlop (Carrick).