Larne manager David McAlinden has spoken of his satisfaction at how pre-season build up has gone so far for the Inver Reds.
McAlinden used Tuesday’s friendly against Queen’s University to see as many players in action as possible, and the result of their collective efforts was a 2-2 draw at The Dub.
The Larne manager used 19 players in all at the rain soaked Belfast venue. The Reds started very positively and club captain, Paul Maguire was looking sharp. He put Larne in front in the 15th minute. Kevin Bradley’s cross to the back post was knocked into Paul Maguire’s path by Darren Stuart leaving the captain with a simple tap in.
Maguire got his second in the 22nd minute. The goal was entirely of his own making as he pinched the ball off the opposing right back and cooly steered the ball past the goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, the Reds faced Ards at the weekend, and it was the newly promoted Premiership side who scored the only goal in a very tame 90 minutes.
“Another good workout against Premiership opposition, it was a typical pre-season game but with so many changes during the game it was difficult,” boss McAlinden said.
“I am still pleased with the way things are shaping up and we have still three weeks to go before the real stuff starts.”
The Inver men have faced four Danske Bank Premiership outfits so far, acquitting themselves well each time.
“We have got out of pre-season exactly what we wanted so far,” McAlinden said.
“The players have worked hard and we are at the stage where we are starting to shape the squad.
“We have had a look at players in various situations and we have been asking questions of them, which are maybe new to them.
“In pre-season you’re starting to get questions answered and we are pleased with what we’ve done so far.
“We have looked solid in the games so far, which is what we have concentrated on and we need to carry more of a threat going forward, and that’s what we haven’t worked on yet.”
McAlinden’s search for a senior goalkeeper continues and he has insisted he will hold out for the right option.
He also confirmed that new signing Stephen O’Neill has yet to feature in pre-season due to injury, which he is hopeful of returning from before the start of competitive action, at home to Armagh on Saturday, August 13.
Having received a bye in the first round of the NIFL League Cup, Larne are likely to arrange a friendly for either Friday, August 5 or Saturday, August 6 to round off their preparations.
In Saturday’s friendly at Inver Park, the only goal of the game came four minutes after the break. Ards player Emmett Friars delivered a cross from the left to find Craig McMillen at the back post and he rattled the ball home.
Larne had a chance to level late on; Thomas Robinson set off on a mazy run through the Ards defence but Liam McAuley was smartly down to block the shot.
Next up in the pre-season build up is a home game against Crumliin on Saturday with a 3pm start.