Larne dropped one place to 11th after they went down 2-1 at home to champions-elect Ards on Saturday.
The visitors went going two up early in the second half before Larne pulled one back through Lee Thompson.
Manager Graham McConnell conceded Ards deserved their win but was annoyed about his team’s lacklustre start. “We began the game slowly and it was the same at the start of the second half which in the end cost us the game. We seem to wait until the opposition score and then start to play; maybe it is down to inexperience or having so many young players,” he told the Times.
McConnell, however, did draw some positives from the defeat. “I was pleased that the boys fought back after going two down. In the past it would have meant the end and the heads would go down. It is still in our hands and we have another massive game at Limavady next week.”
Ards dominated the first half with Neil Dougan and Craig McMillen wasting good chances. Chris Keenan was in brilliant form keeping the Reds in touch to deny Stephen Crockett and Paul McDowell.
The visitors went in front three minutes after the break when Crockett played the ball to Ross Arthurs. He raced across the edge of the box and unleashed a cracking shot which flew into the net.
Eight minutes later the lead was doubled when McMillen delivered a cross to the near post for McDowell to head home. The same player should have added a third when he broke clear, but again Keenan made a fine save.
With 68 minutes gone Larne were back in the hunt. A long free-kick from Keenan was flicked on by Sencer Yilmaz to Thompson who calmly found the net.
Thompson was then booked for diving in the box. The referee appeared to look towards the penalty spot before the assistant indicated it was a free-kick, although it seemed as if there had been contact.
With 10 minutes left George Young got space on the edge of the box but his shot was straight at the keeper.
Larne: Keenan, McClean, Magill, McAllister, W. Wharry, Irvine, Moore, J. Wharry, Thompson, Todd, Young. Subs: Crawford (Todd), Workman (J. Wharry), McGinley, Yilmaz (Moore).
Referee: K. Gibbons (Carrick)