Larne suffered their first defeat of the season after losing 1-0 away to Loughgall in the Sports Direct Premiership on Tuesday evening.
Having already been reduced to 10 men following Rohan Ferguson’s red card for handling outside the box with 20 minutes left, Larne’s woes were further compounded when Benji Magee popped up with a 90th minute winner for the home side.
Ferguson had also saved a first half penalty on a night when Larne found it difficult to replicate recent form.
The opening stages of this one was a bit of a scrappy affair, but the game burst into life with 16 minutes gone.
On loan Crusaders striker Jay Boyd played a fine through ball in behind the Larne defence which set Caolan McAleer clear in the penalty area, before his progress was halted by goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson.
After initially producing the red card referee Tony Clarke eventually booked Ferguson for the foul. The relieved goalkeeper then dusted himself down to save Mark Patton’s penalty, low to his left.
This seemed to spark Larne into life and they came close to taking the lead twice within a minute.
With 26 minutes on the clock a quick throw-in on the right flank saw Andy Ryan and Joe Thomson combine well to tee-up Dylan Sloan but the teenage midfielder just couldn’t manage to get enough contact on the ball to steer it past Turker from inside the box.
Less than 60 seconds later Sloan was in the thick of the action again. This time Paul O’Neill supplied the ball from the right flank, pulling it back for Sloan who this time got more power behind his shot but saw it saved by Turker.
Loughgall continued to look lively on the break, with much of their pay coming through Boyd. However, 10 minutes before the break Larne threatened again and it was Sloan who was denied once more.
Thomson was at the heart of the move as the ball was worked to Sloan inside the box, but this time a brave block prevented Turker having to deal with the effort.
Just ahead of the hour mark Larne boss Tiernan Lynch introduced last season’s top scorer Lee Bonis in a bid to break the deadlock in this one.
The Invermen saw plenty of the ball, but were struggling to find the one piece of quality they were looking for to unlock the match in their favour.
Twenty minutes from time they would have had the elusive first goal, but for a moment of magic from Berraat Turker. Kieran Lloyd swung in a cross from the right and Bonis produced a header which looked destined for the top right corner, only for Turker to somehow turn it away.
A minute later and it was the goalkeeper at the other end who was again in the thick of the action. A ball over the top send Jay Boyd clear and with the goal at his mercy Rohan Ferguson rushed out of his area only to save the shot with his hands. This time there was to be no reprieve from the red card.
On 77 minutes substitute Larne goalkeeper Aidan Dowling was almost beaten, with Mark Patton’s free-kick skimming the top of his crossbar.
In the final minute of the 90 the home side grabbed the winner through substitute Benji Magee. He picked the ball on the left flank and jinked his way past three defenders before slotting the past the onrushing Dowling to seal all three points and move the home side into sixth place in the table.
Loughgall: Turker, Carson, Murdock, Brogan, Kelly, McAleer (’90 Teggart), Patton, Cartwright, Balde (’64 Magee), Boyd (’90 Ferris), Loughran
Unused subs: Devine, Hoey, Batlokwa, Carroll
Larne: Ferguson, Donnelly, Farquhar, O’Neill, (’58 Bonis) Thomson, Ives, Bolger, Cosgrove, Graham (’80 Randall), Sloan (’58 Lloyd), Ryan
Unused subs: Dowling, Glynn, Kearns, Allan
Referee: Tony Hunter