RETURNING Larne skipper Paul Maguire has called on his team-mates to ensure they produce a strong finish in their last game of the season on Saturday.
Larne travel to Castlederg at the weekend just one place from the bottom after a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Coagh United, which saw the Invermen end with 10 men following George Young’s sending-off.
Maguire was pleased to be back on the pitch again after a broken bone in his foot saw him miss almost four months of the season. However, his second half substitute appearance was unable to prevent a late collapse.
Instead it was a replacement for the home side who did all the damage with Glen Clarke coming off the bench to net a hat-trick in the final six minutes of the match.
His first arrived after an uncharacteristic slip from Chris Keenan presented him with a simple tap-in. It was harsh on Keenan who produced a top-drawer save seconds beforehand and looked his, usual, steady self throughout.
Young then saw red after receiving two cautions in quick succession; the second for dissent.
As Larne chased the game, Keenan was sent forward for a corner, but it ended up costing a second goal and any possible route back into the contest.
The ball was cleared to the halfway line and Clarke, off receiving treatment, was immediately waved back on to the pitch allowing him to pick up the ball and fire it into an unguarded net from the halfway line.
Clarke then wrapped up the game, allowing him to take home the matchball, as he provided a close range finish to a sweeping move down the left flank.
“We hit the self-destruct button I think,” Maguire admitted. “I think there were four minutes to go and it looked to be finishing 0-0 which would have meant we were safe.
“It’s going to be a big, big game at Dergivew. We’ve made it hard for ourselves but at the end of the day it’s only ourselves who can put it right.
“It’s going to be tough but we have to make sure we finish strongly and get the result we need. It’s all about making sure we stay up this year and build for next year and I’m looking forward to pre-season and getting a good start.”
Maguire he admitted it felt good to make his return to the squad, albeit in difficult circumstances.
“It was just good to get a touch of the ball, and thankfully there weren’t any nasty challenges going in during that match,” he said.
“Maybe that’ll tell the tale in a match when they are. I was a bit tight afterwards but it was good to be on the pitch again.”
Coagh United: Yorke, McGeown, Thornton, Calderwood, Ferguson (Kempton), Anderson, Park, McCordick, Gillespie, Dallas, Lamont (Clarke) Unused subs: Nicholl, Glasgow, McKenzie.
Larne: Keenan, McClean, Magill, McNamee, W Wharry, Todd, Irvine, Young, Crawford (McGinley), Yilmaz (Maguire, Workman (Thompson) Unused subs: Moore, J Wharry.
Referee: Hugh Carvill