Larne’s reward for seeing off Shankill United in the Intermediate Cup is a fourth-round tie at home to Limavady United.
Craig Todd scored the only goal of the game in a less-than-convincing 1-0 win over visitors United at Inver on Saturday.
Manager Graham McConnell was relieved to have seen off the Amateur League outfit: “To be fair to Shankill, their fitness was excellent and they pushed us to the end. We defended very well, which was important, and it was a good game to get rid of the rustiness, not having played for a few weeks,” he said.
“We are very glad to be in the next round but it is certainly a case of must do better. We had a few players not on top of their game but it was good to see George Young back in action. By the time we play our next game there will be a few more new faces in the squad.”
After a scrappy start, Larne began to settle and almost went ahead on 23 minutes. A Gary Workman corner found Craig Todd who was unlucky to see his header strike the crossbar, with Andy Simms firing the follow-up over the bar.
Todd was to have better luck two minutes later. This time a Simms corner from the right was headed on by United’s Stuart King and Todd was on hand to head home.
King had a chance to redeem himself four minutes before the break with a sweetly struck free-kick which was brilliantly saved by Chris Keenan.
After the break, Larne looked jaded as United took control. Kirk Madden and Aaron Bickerstaff had chances to level when well placed, but failed to test Keenan.
The best chance for the home side in the second half fell to Paul Maguire who was denied by a fine save from James Thompson.
Manager McConnell is on record saying he would like local players in the squad and on Saturday he had no less than eight home-town lads in the starting 11, and another three on the bench.
Larne: Keenan, S. Todd, Magill, McAllister, Wharry, Workman, Irvine, Young, Maguire, C.Todd, Simms. Subs: Monaghan (Maguire), J. Wharry (Young), Gibbons, Campbell.
Larne’s clash with Limavady is scheduled to be played on Saturday, January 26 (1:30pm kick-off).