LARNE LADIES secured their second promotion in as many seasons with a hard fought 3-1 win away to Chimney Corner Ladies at the Antrim Forum last Wednesday.
The Inver Women showed great character to overcome the disappointment of falling to a 3-1 defeat at home to Foyle Belles seven days previously. That defeat ended their slim hopes of winning the league, but more importantly meant that they were relying on results elsewhere to keep their promotion prospects alive.
Their promotion rivals, Coleraine, needed to score three more points than Larne in their last two games. As it was, they beat Mountjoy, but also lost away to Foyle Belles. All William Noble’s team needed, therefore, was a draw against Chimney Corner to seal second place in the league.
They suffered an early setback when Wendy Elliott found the top corner of the net from 20 yards to put Chimney Corner in front in the 6th minute. Larne almost equalised immediately when Marion Gage broke through the Corner defence, but she saw her shot flash beyond the post.
With Corner playing Foyle Belles in their final match of the season, they desperately needed to win to stay in Division 2, and they played like a team with a lot at stake. They played at a high tempo, battled hard and closed down Larne very well in the early stages.
However, they struggled to maintain that, and the Inver Women started to take control of the game in the later stages of the half. The pressure told in the 39th minute. Georgia Crawford broke down the left hand side and clipped a tempted cross towards the edge of the six yard box with Kylie Doherty on hand to score.
Just before half time, Holly Robinson had a good chance to put the Inver Women ahead before the break, but saw her shot fly off target.
Larne edged in front on 65 minutes. Hannah Robinson got in behind the Chimney Corner defence and found herself in time and space, one on one with the keeper, but saw her shot come off the post. Kylie Doherty was able to follow up on the rebound to force the ball home.
Stand in goalkeeper Lynsey Baxter produced some heroics to maintain the lead when she made a spectacular stop to tip a shot onto the crossbar. It proved to be a vital save at a vital time, as Corner seemed to lose a bit of belief at that point. Only needing a point for promotion, the Inver Women were able to see the remainder of the game out quite comfortably.
A bit of gloss was put on the result as Jenny Montgomery came off the bench to smash home Larne’s third deep into stoppage time to get the promotion celebrations underway.
Larne Ladies: Lynsey Baxter, Aimee McKenzie, Lynsey Noble, Mollie McAllister, Aimee Shiels, Marion Gage, Georgia Crawford, Hannah Robinson, Kylie Doherty, Holly Robinson, Michelle Beggs.
Subs: Courtney Watson, Jenny Montgomery, Laura Noble.