Larne bounced back from two goals down to claim a point in a 2-2 draw with Loughgall in an entertaining game at Inver Park.
On another day the Reds would have won the game as the visitors goal had a charmed life with a mixture of great saves and scrambled clearances.
With four debutants in the starting line-up, Larne took time to settle and found themselves a goal down on 13 minutes when Warner Mullen picked up the ball on the corner of the box and fired a shot high into the net past new Larne stoper Billy Brennan.
Loughgall doubled their lead 12 minutes later after the controversial award of a penalty. New signing Colin Nixon appeared to win the ball as he challenged Daniel Ryan, but the referee cautioned the veteran defender and pointed to the spot for Mullen to confidently convert.
Manager Davy McAlinden then made a positive change when the sent on Guillaume Keke for Thomas Robinson and he was involved in Larne’s opener on 43 minutes. Kevin Bradley’s cross was touched on by the French striker and the ball finally broke to Paul Maguire who found the net.
Just before the break Larne twice went close to levelling. Keke saw his effort brilliantly tipped over and then Stuart McMullan’s goal-bound header was blocked on the line.
The home side then had a let-off when Daniel Ryan’s shot struck the upright and fell kindly for Brennan.
The home support were then left shaking their heads as Keke and Maguire saw good chances go to waste before the equaliser arrived 20 minutes from time. The ball broke to Ciaran Murray on the left, his shot rebounded off Garth Buchanan in the Loughgall goal into the path of Keke who tucked it home.
The Reds had chances to snatch the points late on through Murray, Keke and Maguire but it just wasn’t their day.
LARNE: Brennan, Bradley, Calvert, Haughey, Nixon, McMullan, Irvine (McGrandless 62), Murray, Maguire, McIlveen, Robinson (Keke 40). Subs not used: Rodgers, Donnelly, McCabe.
LOUGHGALL: Buchanan, Taylor, Maillen, Copeland, Hudson, Walsh, Ferguson, Dallas, Mullen, Ryan, Rea. Subs: Henderson, Doyle, Dane, Carson, Drylie.
Referee: S. Wallace