After four consecutive league wins with an average of three goals per game and five of them in the last one against Limavady United, it’s no wonder Larne boss Davy McAlinden is disappointed that they can’t carry on the momentum this weekend.
But that’s not what hurts the hard-working new Inver Park manager most.
“I’m just sick that we are out of the Irish Cup because it would have been nice to be playing in the glamour competition of local football. So, instead, our focus over this fortnight is on the next league match against Institute on Saturday week,” he said.
“Now, we are trying to arrange a wee friendly match and I have a couple of options I am exploring, although nothing is by any means certain in that direction. It’s complicated a wee bit as well by the fact that our pitch is out of operation for us because Carrick Rangers are playing their Irish Cup match with Dundela at Inver Park.”
On paper, Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Limavady would perhaps seem to be the best yet for the rejuvenated Larne side, but McAlinden says that’s not the case. He was, however, very well pleased with the performance and, obviously, the result.
“Saturday’s 5-1 result sounds like a tremendous win and I would take that any day of the week. But we have played better this season. It was a good display but with the difference that we were much more clinical in front of goal and that was the really pleasing aspect of the victory.”
Prior to the home tie against Limavady, the Inver Park manager said the fixture presented himself and his team with a different kind of character test – and he’s delighted they all seemed to take it in their stride.
“There’s pressure in every game you play, but before Saturday we had been playing against teams which were above us in the table and suddenly we had to shoulder the favourite’s tag.
“But we coped very well with that and now we are sitting in a fairly healthy position in the league.”
However, the boss is warning against anyone having any lofty expectations as a consequence of their impressive little surge up the Championship 1 table.
“If anyone had offered me this situation when I took the job I’d have bitten their hand off for it. Even two or three matches ago, we were looking over our shoulders with a little bit of concern.
“But that proves you can go up the table or down the table very quickly at this level – and we have to be very mindful of that and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
“Ballyclare are a classic example of what can happen, winning 5-1 against Institute then losing a couple of games and drawing with Limavady and on Saturday they beat Dundela 5-3. And Dergview have also shown that results are really unpredictable with their win over Carrick.
“When I took on the task, the target was to get out of relegation trouble and we are well clear of it at the present time. But it would be foolish to think we can relax our focus because we need to be absolutely fully concentrated on each game as it comes along.
“People are talking about achieving a top-six position and I suppose that is within our grasp, but only if we keep on putting in the hard work, applying ourselves well and showing the same determination as we did on Saturday.
“The ultimate aim is to bring Larne back to challenging for promotion to the top-flight, where this club deserves to be, and we will continue to strive for that goal. But we must keep our feet firmly on the ground.
“This is very much a work in progress; it’s very early days and I am under no illusion there is a very long way to go and a massive amount of work still to be done.”