Invermen book European play-off final spot

May 10, 2022 | Archive

Larne ran out 2-0 winners at home to Coleraine on Tuesday night to book their place in the European play-off final away to Glentoran.

Kofi Balmer headed home via deflection set Larne on their way after 12 minutes, before Mark Randall sealed the victory in stoppage time to reach Friday’s decider.

It’s the second year in a row the Invermen booked their place in the Premiership finale, and they were made to work all the way by the Bannsiders.

After an even opening 10 minutes Larne began to stamp their authority on the game and almost took the lead in eye-catching fashion on 11 minutes.

From a Tomas Cosgrove throw-in on the right Mark Randall unleashed thunderous half-volley which Coleraine goalkeeper Martin Gallagher did well to turn on to the crossbar.

From the resulting corner, however, Larne broke the deadlockck. Randall swung in the ball from the left and Kofi Balmer got his head on it to deflect the ball over the line via a big deflection from Coleraine defender Rodney Brown and the underside of the bar.

Randall was in the thick of the action 10 minutes later when the home side went close again.

This time Lee Lynch’s cross was parried by Gallagher – standing in for regular stopper Gareth Deane – and Randall’s follow-up from 12 yards was bravely blocked.

The first half was a tale of dominance from the home side and they came close to doubling their lead 10 minutes before the break.

It was almost a carbon copy of the first as a Mark Randall corner from the left was this time met by the head of Tomas Cosgrove, but this time his effort was cleared off the line by Lyndon Kane.

The Invermen continued to threaten the Coleraine goal and, with 41 minutes gone, a familiar face almost put them further behind.

On the counter attack Lee Lynch released Ben Doherty clear on the right, but his tame effort was dealt with by Gallagher.

The second half began just as the first had finished, with Larne going close to doubling their lead.

Tomas Cosgrove set off on a lung-busting run down the right flank and crossed to Lee Bonis on the edge of the box. The former Portadown player put it on a plate for McDaid, but he could only shoot straight at Gallagher from 10 yards.

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney went reshuffles his options shortly afterwards when he introduced striker Matthew Shevlin and midfielder Aaron Jarvis.

In the final 10 minutes, their best chance of the night by some distance fell to fellow midfielder Stephen Lowry who found himself in space inside the Larne penalty area, but side-footed agonisingly wide of the far post from 12 yards out.

Two minutes later, at the other end, Larne would have wrapped it up but for a fine save from Martin Gallagher.

Good work from Lee Bonis – returning to the side after an injury layoff – saw him cut inside and present the ball to former Bannsider Ben Doherty 20 yards out. However his arrowing effort was turned away by Gallagher to deny Doherty a fourth goal against his former employers this season.

Larne: Ferguson, Balmer, Kelly, Sule, Randall, McDaid (’68 Scott), Doherty (’85 Jarvis), Lynch (’85 Mitchel), Bolger, Bonis, Cosgrove

Unused subs: Devlin, Hale, Lusty

Coleraine: Gallagher, Kane, Mullan (’85 Allen), Brown (’53 Jarvis), Lowry, J McLaughlin (’53 Shevlin), Bradley, Carson, O’Donnell, Glackin, Kelly (’78 Wilson)

Unused subs: Henderson, K McLaughlin, Tosh

Referee: Ross Dunlop



Referee: Ross Dunlop

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