Larne booked their place in the semi-final of the Toals County Antrim Shield with a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Ards on Tuesday evening.
“It was a tough test but we expected it coming here,” said delighted Inver Reds boss Davy McAlinden. “We didn’t play as fluently as we can but in cup football it is all about being in the hat for the next round. We showed a lot of character and the boys put their bodies on the line.”
Larne broke the deadlock after 12 minutes. James McCabe did well to win the ball on the right and send in a low cross for Darren Stuart to fire past Ryan Brown.
The visitors had a let-off 10 minutes later. Goalkeeper Paddy Flood was beaten to the ball by Gary Dorrian who saw his lob headed off the line by Stuart McMullan.
Ards then got a grip on the game and levelled five minutes before the break. A quick break through the middle allowed Emmett Templeton to pick out Dorrian and his low drive beat Flood in the Larne goal.
With a minute of the half remaining Larne regained the advantage. Paul Maguire, making a welcome return after injury, spotted ‘keeper Ryan Brown off his line and his lob sailed into the empty net.
The second half was a hard slog for the visitors as the home side took control. Rory Carson sent a shot inches over the bar and Danny McKee headed just wide.
As the seconds ticked away Ards missed a great chance to level. From a corner on the left, Denver Gage headed against the post and the ball broke to James Softley two yards out but he somehow turned his shot the wrong side of the post.
Ards: Brown, Hall, Gage, Cully, Lambe, McDonnell, Templeton, Carson, Dorrian, Warwick, McKee. Subs: Softley, E. McAllister, D. McAllister, McAuley.
Larne: Flood, Bradley, Smith, McClean, McMullan, McGrandless, Stuart , Gillan, McCabe, Maguire, Robinson. Unused subs: Todd, McGonnell, Rodgers, Donnelly, Irvine.
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).