Maguire fires winner as Larne rise to see-off Ards

Paul Maguire was on target for Larne against Ards in the Co Antrim Shield
Paul Maguire was on target for Larne against Ards in the Co Antrim Shield

Ards players left the field bewildered while Larne celebrated, as the Inver Reds booked their place in the last four of the County Antrim Shield.

David McAlinden’s men won 2-1 but Ards missed a string of chances to equalise, including two incredible goal-line scrambles in the last five minutes.

Larne opened the scoring at the Bangor Fuels Arena in the 12th minute through former Cliftonville man Darren Stuart. James McCabe skipped past Ards captain James Cully before picking out Stuart. The forward took a touch before slotting the ball past Ryan Brown from around 15 yards.

Ards equalised in the 40th minute. Emmett Templeton picked out Gary Dorrian, who slotted the ball past Flood with a low effort from the edge of the 18-yard box.

Larne regained the lead in the last minute of the first half in unusual circumstances. The Inver Reds lofted a ball into the direction of Paul Maguire, who was 20-yards from goal by the left-touchline. Ards goalkeeper Ryan Brown charged out to the edge of the box, giving Maguire the opportunity to lob the ball into the unguarded net. It was a fine finish from Maguire, but Brown made life easy for him.

The Red & Blues totally dominated the second with Danny McKee going close in both the 59th minute and 72nd minute, first with a header and then with a penalty box shot.

James Cully was the next to go close. He headed a short-corner over the bar after Eamon McAllister flighted the ball into the box, in the 78th minute.

The best chance for an equaliser came five minutes from time when Denver Gage headed a Tommy Lambe corner against the post. The rebound fell kindly to James Sofley but the young forward somehow failed to get the ball over the line.

In injury time there was another six-yard box scramble but Ards were unable to turn the ball home, as Larne held on for hard fought win.

On a miserable night in Bangor in front of small crowd, Ards and Larne provided an entertaining game that rewarded those fans who braved the elements.

ARDS: Brown; Hall, Gage, Cully, Lambe; McDonnell, Dorrian, Templeton (74 Sofley); Warwick (64 E. McAllister), Carson; McKee

Subs Not Used: McAuley, Bailie, D. McAllister

LARNE: Flood; Bradley, McMullan, McClean, Smith; Robinson (89 Todd), McGrandles (70 Rodgers), Gillan, McCabe (50 Irvine); Maguire, Stuart

Subs Not Used: McGonnell, Donnelly

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)