LARNE midfielder Mark Picking heaped praised on his new manager Graham McConnell after kicking off his career at the club in the best possible way - with a stoppage winner in their 2-1 opening day victory over Dergview.
Late drama was the order of the day in Saturday’s game as Robbie White headed the Reds into a late lead - with just eight minutes left on the clock - only to be cancelled out by a Dergview equaliser three minutes later.
However, the home side weren’t done there and veteran Picking smashed home the winner with literally the last kick of the game.
“Hopefully Saturday showed that I can still get box-to-box after 90 minutes and thankfully I popped up in the right place at the right time,” the veteran said.
“When you see the work Graham (McConnell) and Sammy (Smith) put in during the summer trying to get the squad together and getting us kitted out even, it’s unbelievable.
“These are guys from Larne, they bleed Larne and you see the enthusiasm they have.
“People can think what they want but he’s working a shoestring budget and people have come here for football reasons, so it’s great reward for the management especially.”
It was a deserved win for the home side who controlled most of the play in the match and gave them a winning start to a season for the first time since 2007.
The first half was a tame affair and a typical beginning of the season encounter, as both teams looked to suss each other out.
Paul Maguire had a couple of half chances for the home side while Darren Higginbotham looked the most dangerous player for the visitors.
The real drama was reserved for the dying embers of the contest.
Stuart King raced down the left flank delivered a quality cross and there was substitute White, on his 100th appearance for the club, to head home the first goal of the season.
Graham McConnell’s side looked in little danger throughout the game but on 87 minutes Richard Clarke’s men netted an equaliser.
Substitute Gareth Parker found himself in the right place at the right time as he side-footed past Keenan from just six yards out.
Larne recovered from that late blow, however, as fellow substitute Ciaran Gargan sent Paul Maguire down the left flank and he looked up to cross for Picking, as all three points were sealed.
Larne: Keenan, Scott (Murray 65’), McShane, Wharry, McNamee, Todd, Irvine (Gargan 65’), King, Maguire, Picking, Crawford (White). Unused subs: J McAllister, Workman.
Dergview: Buchanan, Parker, Stewart, Robinson, Maxwell, Lecky (Wallace 68’), Arkinson, Clarke, Campbell, Higginbotham, Gareth Sproule (Fulton). Unused subs: Beggs, Glen Sproule, Barclay.