Goals from captain Steven Ferguson and Josh Finlay in either half earned Loughgall their first home league win of the season against a struggling Larne side.
Boss Colin Malone made three changes to the starting line-up that was heavily beaten by Ards last weekend. He was able to include new signing Ricky Copeland, who joined from Newry City, alongside the return of Mark Stewart in central defence with Finlay moving to right-back. Scott Herron started in place of Adam Pedlow, and another new addition Ian Curran, also signed from Newry City, was an unused substitute.
Loughgall looked the more threatening during the opening stages and Larne had ‘keeper Nathan Morley-Hillen to thank in the 26th minute after he made a smart double-save to deny both Copeland’s and Finlay’s headed efforts from Dale Malone’s corner.
Ten minutes later a good interchange between Wesley Boyle and Johnny Kernaghan allowed the latter to cross for Malone who saw his header well saved by Morley-Hillen.
Loughgall scored the opener they deserved in the dying stages of the first period when Malone’s deep corner was headed home by the unmarked Ferguson for his first goal of the season.
Larne struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities as Loughgall’s new-look defence looked increasingly solid. A chance was created on the hour mark as Andrew Simms raced onto Brian McClean’s pass before hitting a low shot that was excellently saved by the alert home ‘keeper Gareth Buchanan.
Loughgall doubled their lead three minutes later following another set-piece – Copeland was denied twice, firstly by Scott Todd and then the crossbar before the ball fell nicely for Josh Finlay to convert from close range.
‘Keeper Morley-Hillen produced a brilliant diving save to stop Aaron Willis’ fierce shot that was destined for the top corner after good initial play from Malone on 79 minutes.
The visitors missed their best chance with one minute remaining as Simms’ forward ball was narrowly headed wide by the unmarked Paul Maguire.
Loughgall: Buchanan, Finlay, Rodgers, Stewart, Copeland, Herron, Malone (Carson 90m), Ferguson (Brady 78m), Kernaghan, Willis (Pedlow 89m), Boyle. Unused subs: Curran, King.
Larne: Morley-Hillen, S Todd, C Todd, Young, McAllister (McGinley 39m), Wharry, Simms, McClean, Irvine (McDowell 78m), Workman (Donnelly 78m), Maguire. Unused subs: Gibbons.