Unbeaten Dundela arrive at Inver Park on Saturday and Larne captain Paul Maguire knows there’s little time for the Invermen to be feeling sorry for themselves.
With the manager’s hot-seat still vacant at Inver Park, skipper Maguire knows he has an extra responsibility to lift his fellow players against the league leaders.
He certainly played his part against Coagh last weekend, netting twice in an entertaining 3-3 draw.
“I think we can raise our game another 10 per cent, there’s no doubt we lift it again for Dundela,” Maguire said.
“They are scoring lots and lots of goals but they’re also conceding goals as they have done for the last couple of seasons.
“I was very disappointed coming away with the draw against Coagh, because we created more chances than we had done all season.
“They had a few chances but I thought, overall, we dominated the game and should have won.
“There was great character and spirit from the boys however; especially after what had gone on in the build-up.
“Sammy (Smith) wanted a bit of passion and pride back into the play and we showed that.”
Larne got off to the best possible start as Stuart King put them into the lead with just two minutes on the clock.
The former Linfield midfielder curled a free-kick from 25 yards beyond the wall and Willy Hassan’s reach.
The visitors came into the game more as the half wore on and were level on 13 minutes.
Stephen Park had time to shoot on the edge of the box and lofted a shot beyond Dylan McRandal into the roof of the net.
By this stage Coagh’s attacking threat was obvious and 10 minutes after equalising, they found themselves in front.
McRandal kept out Stephen Lamont’s effort from 10 yards but could do little about Jason Gillespie’s close-range follow-up.
Six minutes into the second-half Gillespie had the chance to double his tally and stretch Coagh’s advantage from the penalty spot, after Stuart King was adjudged to have handled inside the box from a corner. However, Coagh’s top scorer struck the post and this seemed to spur the home side into life.
A short while later Maguire tried his luck from all of 35 yards, with Hassan turning the shot on to underside of the bar. Referee Simon Creaney immediately awarded the goal, only to then consult with one of his assistants. After a brief consultation the ‘goal’ was ruled out, with the game restarted on a drop ball inside the Coagh penalty box.
Maguire didn’t have to wait long to get his name on the scoresheet, however, and the equaliser duly arrived with 68 minutes gone.
King’s precise corner from the right was met by the captain and he made no mistake heading in from close range.
Two minutes later and Maguire scored his second to put Larne in front again. This time he latched on to Scott Irvine’s quality through ball, composed himself and side-footed home from seven yards out.
Coagh came back strongly with Jamie Tomelty’s deflected shot hitting the post before substitute Matthew Kempton earned a point with a shot beyond the reach of McRandal from 20 yards.
Subs Gareth McConnell and Kelan McAuley missed close range headers and Larne had to make do with a point.
Larne: McRandal, Todd, Hughes, Wharry, McNamee, King, N McAllister (McConnell), Irvine, Picking, Maguire, J McAllister (McAuley). Unused subs: McGinley, Swann
Coagh United: Hassan, McGeown, Young, Taylor (Kempton), Anderson, Tomelty, Park, McCordick, Gillespie, Dallas, Lamont. Unused sub: Ferguson
Referee: Simon Creaney