Larne boss Graham McConnell is today hoping his side can bounce straight back from last week’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Limavdy United.
Warrenpoint Town - currently fourth in Championship One - provide the opposition today in a rearranged league encounter (3pm kick-off).
Last week’s Intermediate Cup walloping by a team just above them in the table may have brought Larne down to earth with a bit of a bump, but McConnell is confident it’s just a bit of a reality check – rather than a case of the bubble bursting.
“It was certainly unexpected, our first defeat in nine outings in all competitions, and it was extremely disappointing. But I think there were a few mitigating factors and I can forgive the players for what happened against Limavady United,” said the manager.
“We had quite a few unavailable for a variety of reasons, most of them because they were cup-tied. But, if I explain that between Friday afternoon and the Saturday afternoon kick-off, we had to change the starting line-up three times, you will appreciate that we didn’t have the best preparation for the match.
“James Braniff had to cry off because his wife went into labour and then Liam Conlon, whom we had initially believed was eligible to play for us, then came to us an hour before the game and told us that he was cup-tied after all.
“However, while that was unfortunate, the fact is that it’s not an excuse for what was a very poor showing. We had picked players who were definitely good enough to get a result against Limavady. But it was a bad performance, one of those days when we failed to turn up, you could say.
“In games like the cup match against Lurgan Celtic and the crucial league game against Tobermore United, when things weren’t going well the players knuckled down and kept working hard until the very end. It’s a long while since we failed to get going like we did on Saturday.
“I hope I don’t see a repeat of that for a long time to come and I am optimistic that will be the case,” assured McConnell.
McConnell also clarified the goalkeeping situation at Inver after Chris Keenan picked up an ankle injury.
“Christopher was very unlucky,” he said. At first it was feared he had broken his ankle, but it transpires that it is actually ligament damage, although we can’t yet determine how bad it was. Indeed, a break would probably have been quicker to heal.
“Nathan Morley-Hillen had been contemplating a move to Banbridge Town, but that will not be happening. We were fortunate that he was with us on Saturday – and that we had decided to put him on the bench.”
Report by Kevin Hughes