Ricky Higgins’ early goal in the second half was the difference between the sides as Larne saw off Loughgall in the WKD Core Intermediate Cup Quarter Final at Inver Park.
Loughgall, playing their first game since Niall Currie departed as boss last weekend, were extremely competitive and forced home ‘keeper David Henry into a number of superb reaction saves.
Both sides threatened in the opening stages of the game with Loughgall’s Martin Murray failing to keep two attempts on target when well placed, and then Larne captain Allan Reid touched the ball narrowly wide following Mark Brown’s deep corner.
The Villagers came closest to taking the lead throughout the first half when Andy Ferguson met Paul Carville’s delivery and crashed his header against the crossbar on 15 minutes.
In first half injury time, Larne defender Robbie White connected with a deep long throw at the back post however he was denied by ‘keeper Marc Robinson’s smart diving save.
Larne netted the decisive goal just three minutes into the second period when Reid’s inviting cross from the left wing was headed home by substitute Ricky Higgins arriving at the back post for his 5th goal of the season.
The visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser and came close in the 65th minute when strike partners Barry Bloomer buy meridia in australia and Murray combined for the latter to strike low from 15 yards. However the young striker was denied twice by ‘keeper Henry’s reactions.
The Harbour Rats missed an excellent opportunity to kill off the game on 73 minutes when a quick breakaway released Lee Thompson who was bearing down on goal with Mark Craig supporting him to his left. Thompson attempted to thread the ball through to Craig at the back post however he misjudged the strength of his pass and the chance was missed.
With two minutes remaining Loughgall were again denied a leveller when Alan Murphy teed up forward Bloomer with a cushioned header and Bloomer struck fiercely at goal however there was no way past Henry in the home goals.
Larne: Henry, Moore, G. Larmour, White, Carland, Reid, McNally, Brown, Craig, D. Larmour (Thompson 55m), Dick (Higgins 38m) (Harris 87m). Unused subs: McClean, Marsh.
Loughgall: Robinson, Ferguson, Carville (Baird 90m), Peden, Murphy, Smith, Ryan, McCain, Bloomer, Murray (McGerrigan 67m), McNeill (Kernaghan 90m). Unused subs: Coleman, McCullough.