A gritty performance from Larne earned them a valuable point against Bangor on Tuesday night in their battle for survival in Championship 1, writes PAUL CAMPBELL.
The 0-0 draw was probably a fair result in the end, but it was certainly a game the Reds could have won as they showed more attacking endeavour.
Manager Graham McConnell wasn’t happy with the point, but also took the positives from the game. “It was another clean sheet and we have moved up another place in the table. We played another team in what I call the ‘mini-league’ at the bottom who were happy with a 0-0 draw and our players are very disappointed.”
He added: “We didn’t create enough chances, but I have confidence in our defence that we are not going to concede many goals. We didn’t put enough pressure on their back line and didn’t hold it up enough.”
Reflecting on where the team has come from since he took over as boss, McConnell said: “The defeat at Bangor in November was a low point and there were some who thought we were doomed at that stage. The players have stuck at it, and I know I have been given a second chance and I am really enjoying it and looking forward to the remaining games this season.”
Larne could have taken an early lead with only a minute on the clock when Craig Todd crossed for Sencer Yilmaz, but his header failed to trouble the keeper. The big striker then headed over from a William Magill cross as the Reds took control.
The home side had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Lee Thompson appeared to have been felled by Dean Youle, but the referee ignored the shouts.
On the stroke of half time Bangor’s Andy Long took advantage of a slip by George Young, only to head over from close range.
Keeper Chris Keenan, who was having a quiet night, was called into action on 63 minutes when he pushed away a shot from Mark Cooling.
Two minutes later Larne almost broke the deadlock when a Scott Irvine free-kick broke to Todd who did well to drill in a cross which was bundled off the line by Brian Hyland into the arms of Bangor stopper Darren Gibbons.
With a minute of normal time remaining, the Seasiders were reduced to 10 men. Mark Whitford was cautioned for a rash challenge on Brian McClean. Then, as he joined the defensive wall, Whitford got into a tussle with Gary Workman, earning a second yellow.
Larne: Keenan, McClean, Magill, McAllister, W. Wharry, Crawford (Young), Irvine, Todd, Thompson (Workman), Yilmaz. Subs not used: J. Wharry, McGinley, Baird.
Referee: Cecil Floyd.