Honours even as Gibson Cup arrives at Inver

Apr 22, 2023 | Club News, All News, First Team

Larne and Linfield played out a 1-1 draw in what proved to be the warm-up for a night of history and celebration at Inver Park.

Andy Ryan fired Larne ahead with a spectacular effort just before the break, while Linfield equalised in equally stunning fashion through Stephen Fallon on the hour mark.

However, a packed Inver Park enjoyed what took place at the end of the 90 minutes even more as Jeff Hughes and Tomas Cosgrove lifted the Premiership trophy amid many scenes of joy and celebration.

Once the game got underway there was a carnival atmosphere in the stands, but on the pitch there were two teams keen on victory for different reasons.

David Healy’s side were out for the three points which would guarantee second place and automatic European qualification which comes with it.

For Larne, they wanted to finish the final home game of the season in style, after what has been a historic campaign for the club.

It was the home side who started the brighter of the two sides, taking the game to their visitors. The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was half chances, however, which came the way of Andy Ryan and Fuad Sule.

Despite Larne seeing much of opening play it was Linfield who could have taken the lead on 32 minutes. Cian Bolger miscued a pass on the edge of his own box, giving possession to Joel Cooper, but the Linfield frontman curled his effort just wide.

The deadlock was broken, however, just six minutes and what a strike it was.

Andy Ryan did well to work space for himself on the right flank and the Scottish striker cut inside before playing a one-two with fellow Scotsman Joe Thomson and curling a sumptuous effort from the edge of the box and into the top left corner of Chris Johns’ goal.

Larne’s strong season has built on a clean sheet record which is on track to set a new Premiership record and Rohan Ferguson ensure they would be halfway there at the end of the first half when he made a save with his legs from a low Joel Cooper drive.

They almost added to that lead 10 minutes into the second half. Micheal Glynn whipped in an inviting cross from deep on the left and it was met by the head of Lee Bonis, who smacked an effort off the crossbar.

Within two minutes, Linfield were level and it was another cracker. Midfielder Stephen Fallon ran at the heart of Larne’s defence and with time space he lashed an effort into the top right corner from 25 yards out.

Larne almost retook the lead straight away, but Lee Bonis’ header was cleared off the line, with Johns beaten.

Linfield manager David Healy made a triple sub in an effort to secure that win which would guarantee second spot and came close to going in front when Sam Roscoe headed just wide from a corner.

The most notable event of the closing stages was the introduction of club legend Jeff Hughes who was introduced in the final seconds, so that he could participate in the trophy lift.

Larne: Ferguson, Want, Kelly (’70 mins, Watson), Sule, Bolger, Millar, Thomson (70 mins, Randall) Glynn, Gordon (70 mins, Wolters) Bonis (90+2 Hughes), Ryan (70, Maguire)

Subs: Pardington, Kearns

Linfield: Johns, Roscoe-Byrne, Shields, Callacher, Millar (62 mins, Quinn), McClean (90 mins Pepper), Cooper (62 mins, Lafferty), Clarke, Finlayson, Fallon, Vertainen (62 mins, Devine)

Subs: Walsh, Newberry, Haygrath

Referee: Shane Andrews

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