Coach Niall Curneen has urged Larne Tech Old Boys to ‘stop pressing the self-destruct button’ after his side tossed away three valuable points in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to UUJ at the Factory Grounds.
Curneen told the Times: “When things don’t go our way, when we’re not dictating, we self-destruct. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last year-and-a-half, but if we’re going to go to the next level, we have to deal with this ‘voice in our head’ were we lose our discipline, become petulant and start to do silly things in frustration. That gave us a mountain to climb and we need to learn how to deal with it.
“Here we showed our good and bad sides in the 90 minutes. We need to stay together and work harder together when things get tough. The penny has to drop sooner rather than later or we’re going to be a middle of the table team, with some good and some bad days.
“And there was no excuse for it, for we bossed the opening half-hour, playing nice football into the wind, controlling the game. We went ahead and could have been further in front but we stopped and started playing the long ball from back to front, letting them back into it.”
The Antiville outfit took the lead through a deflected effort from Reece McGinley but it was the Jordanstown side who finished the half the stronger, drawing level with a well-worked goal from Padraig Scollay, dispatching Jason Devlin’s cross into the corner of the net.
Even though the Tech had the elements in their favour after the changearound, it was still UUJ calling the tune and they edged ahead on 50 minutes; Keelan McAuley, with Ryan Kelly behind him ready to pounce, slicing an attempted clearance into his own net.
Things degenerated further for the Tech when they lost the influential Aaron Mulvenna through injury and then skipper Matt Hyslop, shown a straight red for a high challenge on the lively Scollay.
UUJ could have put some distance between the sides but Johnny Magennis, straight through on goal, was hauled up for offside.
Instead, it was the Tech who looked to have rescued a point on 91 minutes, when Sean Ward swirled a free-kick hard and low into the bottom corner of the net.
However, as Curneen added: “Maybe in hindsight, down to 10 men, we should have taken the point, but a point really wasn’t much good for us if we’re going to keep ourselves in the mix for promotion. We had to go for it.”
But so did relegation-threatened UUJ and it was man of the match Scollay who grabbed a dramatic last-gasp winner, heading in a Magennis cross, following a telling break by defender Peter Johnston.
UUJ boss Shane McCullough concluded: “We kept our discipline and showed great resilience coming back after conceding at that late stage. After our poor start to the season, we need to go for the three points and we haven’t drawn a game all season.”