Loughgall grabbed three impressive points away to a Larne side who boast the third best home record in the Belfast Telegraph Championship 1.
Often the visitors were having to defend against a hard-working Inver Park outfit that shared the majority of possession, however it was both a battling and clinical performance that maintains Loughgall’s 4th place position.
Loughgall were without four of their usual starting back five and also had to contend with losing the returning Neil King on 29 minutes to ligament damage forcing striker Paul Keenan to partner Mark Stewart in central defence. Symon Ferguson deputised ably in goals with Marc Robinson unavailable, Aaron Willis and Alain Emerson had to replace the suspended Greg Hall and injured Jeff Brady, while Chris Hull continued to serve his ban.
Larne started brightly testing ‘keeper Symon Ferguson a few times in the opening ten minutes, however it was the away side that broke the deadlock in the 15th minute. Paul Keenan waited until the optimum moment before threading a pass through for Mark Teggart’s angled run, and the winger fought off Reece Moore’s challenge before accurately shooting into the bottom corner from close range.
Mark Stewart could have doubled his sides advantage two minutes later when, under pressure, he got on the end of Dale Malone’s corner however the defender couldn’t keep his volleyed effort on target.
The Harbour Rats missed a glorious chance to draw level on 27 minutes when a left-wing cross found its way across goal for Craig Todd to blast over from six yards. Adam Dick was thwarted two minutes later when ‘keeper Ferguson was well positioned to save the winger’s close range volley following Robbie White’s free-kick.
Loughgall extended their lead seconds later when a neat one-two between Dale Malone and Davy Hawthorne allowed the former to set-up Teggart to score confidently from a difficult angle.
Larne rallied and were on level terms by the break; firstly Dick’s corner delivery was nodded home by Todd at the front post on 34 minutes and then Sencer Yilmaz bundled the ball home on 42 minutes after Dick’s initial curling free-kick crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
The second period provided less clear-cut chances for either side however it was Loughgall that were able to find a way past ‘keeper Davy Henry and record three important points. The winner came with 13 minutes remaining when Stephen Doyle, on the end of Teggart’s low cross, teed up Steven Ferguson to rifle a well-hit volley low into the corner of the net for his first Loughgall goal.
Loughgall: Symon Ferguson, Willis, Stewart, King (Pedlow 29m), Emerson, Hawthorne (Kernaghan 78m), Steven Ferguson, Malone, S Doyle, Teggart, Keenan. Unused sub: N Doyle.
Larne: Henry, Moore, Melly, White, Marsh (Carland 59m), Todd (Steele 78m), Workman, Young, Maguire, Yilmaz (Lemon 79m), Dick. Unused Sub: Gibbons.