16 Apr 2024
© Brian Little/INPHO

It’s advantage Larne going into the final two games of the season following a breathtaking finale to a riveting Tuesday night of Sports Direct Premiership action.

Tiernan Lynch’s defending champions now hold a three point lead over challengers Linfield, but the picture was very different ahead of a scarcely unbelievable few seconds deep into stoppage time in their respective games.

Larne bagged a 95th minute winner over Glentoran at the BetMcLean Oval just when it looked like they’d slip to second spot while, at Windsor Park, Linfield conceded almost simultaneously to have to settle for a point with visitors Coleraine after it appeared they’d done enough to move into pole position.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Newry City’s fate was sealed after they lost to Carrick Rangers at The Showgrounds.

The night also produced victories for Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United.

Larne moved in front as early as the eighth minute when Andy Ryan sent a low shot past Glens ‘keeper Aaron McCarey.

That was how it stayed until just before the hour and Cian Bolger’s miscued clearance into his own net to draw the sides level.

But Larne emerged to claim what could prove to be a title deciding victory five minutes into added time amid desperate scenes in the box from a Bolger ball that saw Glens defender Johnny Russell knock the ball past his own keeper.

Across the city, Linfield fought back from a goal down to lead before being hit by that late, late sucker punch.

Jamie McGonigle had edged Coleraine in front moments from the break with a calm finish into the bottom corner, but the Blues came storming out of the blocks in the second half with Matthew Fitzpatrick and Chris Shields both finding the net just before the hour to put David Healy’s side in the driving seat.

And it remained that way until the seventh minute of added time when Matthew Shevlin nodded home Coleraine’s equaliser!

At Seaview, outgoing Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter ended his last North Belfast derby on a winning note with victory over Cliftonville by the odd goal in three.

Jordan Forsythe had given the Crues an 18th minute advantage following a scramble in the box, but Joe Gormley hit back for the Reds early in the second half.

However Stewart Nixon grabbed the winner just after the hour at the back post after Jordan Owens had knocked the ball on.

In Section B, Carrick Rangers moved into the box seat in the hunt for the European play-off place with a 3-1 defeat of Newry City at The Showgrounds, a result that confirmed City’s place at the bottom of the standings.

It had all started so well for the home side when Ciaran O’Connor found the net after just three minutes, but Rangers hit back after half-an-hour when Curtis Allen knocked home a Danny Gibson flick.

David Cushley then struck from the spot a few minutes after that as Stuart King’s side gained the upper hand before, in first half stoppage time, Gibson added a third to effectively kill the game off.

Ballymena United are now confirmed for the relegation play-off spot, and made it two wins from three with a narrow defeat of Glenavon after Calvin McCurry grabbed what turned out to be the only goal of the game after nine minutes at The Showgrounds.

Meanwhile, at Stangmore Park, Tomas Galvin registered twice in three minutes as Dungannon Swifts got the better of Loughgall.

He broke the deadlock on 54 minutes with a strong drive into the bottom right corner before following up soon after from close range after a corner wasn’t cleared.