Larne can forget about a trip to Seaview on Christmas morning for the Steel and Sons Cup final after they were dumped out by Cliftonville Olympic who deserved their 3-2 win.
Reds’ boss Graham McConnell agreed the right team went into the draw for the next round. “The best team won and I am not making excuses but having to make a substitution after only four minutes didn’t help,” he said.
“We had enough experience on the field today to win that match and if we were starting again tomorrow I would expect to win it.
“We should be dealing with teams like that more professionally, but we looked jaded for some reason.
“This competition means a lot to the supporters and we have let them down. We have had all our cup games at home including this one which was switched to Inver. Changes are needed and I won’t be afraid to make them,” added McConnell.
After a level start, Larne went in front on 33 minutes. A great ball from Eamon Hughes found Paul Maguire and he provided a clinical finish.
The visitors went in on level terms at the interval when Martin Murray took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score.
The game then went into extra-time and Cliftonville edged ahead when Murray grabbed his second courtesy of a deflection.
Larne levelled again when Robbie White rose to head home a cross from Gareth McConnaghie. Both sides had chances to wrap it up before Johnny McMurray grabbed the winner two minutes from time. He picked up the ball on the right side of the box and found a space inside the near post to fire the ball home.
Larne: Keenan, Scott (McConnaghie 61), McShane,Hughes, McNamee (McAuley 61), N.McAllister, King (Black 4), Picking, Maguire, J.McAllister, White. Subs not used: Gargan, Wharry.