Larne Tech Old Boys’ 5-4 Intermediate Cup defeat to Glentoran Seconds sounds like a tight tussle – possibly a penalty shoot-out after ‘much ado about nothing-nothing’. But no, it was goals galore all the way, with all nine arriving in the 90 minutes.
The Tech crashed out despite the wee Glens going down to 10 men after conceding a penalty which gave the home side what should have been a decisive 4-3 lead.
Old Boys’ boss Johnny Hastings told the Times: “The worst possible thing you could do when a team goes down to 10 men is give them some hope - and within two minutes of the sending-off, we let them back into it with an equaliser.”
The Larne boys were missing players such as Keith Wilson, Josh McAllister, Marty Steele, Reece McGinley, Sean Ward, Matt Hyslop and Matt Devine, but Hastings acknowledged: “That’s no excuse. We still had a strong enough team out there. We got what we deserve. Glentoran Seconds were mostly a bunch of kids, whereas a lot of our team have had experience at Larne. And if you score four at home, no matter who you’re playing, you should be winning the game.”
What is giving the Tech boss cause for concern is the amount of goals they are leaking at the back, especially at home. They shipped in six against Downpatrick, four against Dundonald and now five against Glentoran Seconds. “Everything we pride ourselves on, shape off the ball, hard to break down, it just wasn’t happening,” he said. “Last season we were so tight at the back, but on Saturday we were wide open on the break and they punished us. They were very clinical - and they matched us physically. They had a wee bit more desire in the end than us and nicked it with 10 men!”
The Tech could have stolen it, had Keelan McAuley not banged one straight at the keeper at 4-4.
McAuley did get the Tech’s opener, with the other goals coming from Dylan Monaghan and two from Lee Thompson - one of them the penalty which resulted from the hand ball and the red card.
What a difference, then, from the Intermediate Cup of 2004, where Jeff Russell and Paul Hardy’s side went all the way to the final before losing to Linfield Swifts.
Tomorrow, it’s back to Division 1A and another home game against Paul Kirk’s Lisburn Rangers. Hastings concluded “It’s a massive game for us. It’s a must-win, like all our games now to Christmas, and the players know that!”