Second-half goals from Conor Mullen and Peter Campbell saw ten-man Loughgall come back from one goal down to win an enthralling clash against bottom side Larne.
The Villagers had to play with ten men for almost 60 minutes after Josh Finlay was dismissed on the half-hour mark for a late challenge on Matthew Henry. This drew vociferous complaints from Finlay’s teammates who thought it was harsh on the central defender.
Larne made the dream start when, after only four minutes, Rolph Kottoy struck a swerving 25-yard free-kick that deceived home goalkeeper Gareth Buchanan and ended up in the far bottom corner.
Loughgall went close to equalising on 19 minutes when Mark Stewart was denied from close range after connecting with Craig Taylor’s corner.
The hosts came flying out of the traps in the second period and levelled within one minute of the restart. Taylor embarked on a great run down the left flank before whipping in a cross that substitute Conor Mullen glanced home at the front post giving goalkeeper Conor Devlin no chance.
In the 53rd minute Paul Stretton’s well-hit free-kick was spilled by ‘keeper Devlin through his legs however the new signing did well to react and save on the goal line under intense pressure from Jamie Douglas rushing in.
Loughgall midfielder Stefan McMaster almost scored his second free-kick in successive games when his 25-yard effort dipped and swerved forcing Devlin to expertly tip over.
Larne threatened on 76 minutes when substitute Daniel Reynolds found room to fire a low shot goalwards from the edge of the penalty area however he was denied by Loughgall ‘keeper Buchanan.
The home side netted the winner with seven minutes remaining when substitute Peter Campbell smashed home from close range after Devlin parried Dale Montgomery’s deflected effort.
Loughgall: Buchanan, Montgomery, Stretton, Stewart, Finlay, Dallas, McConnell (Crooks 83m), McMaster, Douglas (P Campbell 70m), Hoey (Mullen 39m), Taylor. Unused subs: Rea, Robinson.
Larne: Devlin, Fornah, Thompson, Abe, Bradley, Henry, McCabe, Kottoy, Scullion (Reynolds 75m), Anau (Stuart 53m), Chisanga (McLaren 89m). Unused subs: McConnell, Tolan.