Don’t look back in Bangor

Larne boss Graham McConnell
Larne boss Graham McConnell
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COMING off the back of a superb 3-0 away win over Warrenpoint Town, Larne now face what many people are viewing as one of defining moments in the relegation battle in Championship One, writes KEVIN HUGHES.

But Inver boss Graham McConnell is playing down Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table clash against visiting Bangor.

“It’s the proverbial six-pointer in the eyes of most fans, but I don’t necessarily subscribe to that theory, because I don’t think there’s a lot more pressure on Bangor than there is on us,” he insisted.

“Obviously, it’s an important game for both clubs, but even if they were to win, Bangor would still be bottom and we’d have a couple of games in hand as well. So I don’t think it would be anything like a catastrophe for us. But, should Bangor lose or even draw, they will be a much more difficult position.

“I honestly don’t think there’s any great pressure on us and I’m not playing down the importance of the result. I’m just saying what I believe the situation to be. I’d must rather be in our position than Bangor’s; anybody can appreciate that.

“Winning would be terrific, because we’d be starting a nice wee run of results and it would be great to put back-to-back wins together. I don’t think we have managed that so far.

“It’s very congested down at the bottom of the table, especially above Bangor, with six or seven teams only separated by a few points and all to play for in terms of making progress away from the trouble zone.

“But I don’t believe we are in danger of being dragged into a relegation fight.”

There was plenty of evidence to support McConnell’s positive viewpoint at Warrenpoint on Saturday, as Larne came away with three precious points in the bag from what, on paper, looked a difficult fixture.

“It was a very good result and shows just how well we can play. The scoreline probably surprised a few people, but not me. We are capable of beating anybody on our day and it was good play from Larne rather than a dip in form by the home team,” added McConnell.

“Warrenpoint were slightly the better in the first half and it was down to some good play by goalkeeper Christopher Keenan, from crosses especially, and excellent defending from centre-backs Darren McNamee and Niall McAllister that it was still scoreless at half time. Indeed, I think McAllister is probably the best centre-back in the league right now.

“At half time, I decided to make changes because we were playing with only one striker up front and it was making it too easy for them to get pressing us. So Lee Thompson went on to partner Sencer Yizmaz up front and it changed the game.

“We scored three goals and hit the bar and had two or three other gilt-edged chances to find the net. It was a worthy win and fair play to everyone involved.”

McConnell also ventured another theory which perhaps had the team perked up for a five-star performance.

“We met at the club at 10 that morning for breakfast, the players, officials and committee and eating together before travelling to the match together.

“I want to thank my own sister, Dorothy, and my niece Lindsay for coming down very early and preparing the meals. After the result, I have a notion it could turn into a weekly part of the pre-match routine,” he said.

Everyone at Larne FC would like to express their sympathy to William and Jack Wharry and the extended family after the death of their grandmother.