Larne and Cliftonville played out a committed scoreless draw at Solitude on Saturday as Tiernan Lynch’s side made it for points out of six in their post-split fixtures.
The result leaves the Invermen in fifth place in the table, as the countdown to the European play-offs continues.
It was Larne who had the first sight of goal on 13 minutes. Left back Graham Kelly did well to keep the ball in play at the Cliftonville byline before lofting a cross to the back post. The ball reached Ben Doherty, but he took a touch inside the area before firing well over.
Two minutes later Cliftonville came within a whisker of taking the lead in spectacular fashion. Kelly’s loose pass was intercepted by the home side, and Jamie McDonagh unleashed a fierce dipping volley which came off the centre of Rohan Ferguson’s crossbar, with the goalkeeper looking beaten.
At the other end, Ben Doherty was well placed for the visitors one again midway through the first half when he picked up Lee Bonis’ pass, but this time he tried a curling effort which was just too close to Luke McNicholas.
Cliftonville weren’t quite at their free-flowing best in the opening period but they did have sights of the Larne goal and they well to open up the Larne rearguard on 36 minutes.
Full-back Kris Lowe cut in from the right flank and played a one-two with Ryan Curran on the edge of the box which opened up the space, but he blazed well over the bar.
At half-time Larne introduced former Cliftonville man Davy McDaid in place of Lee Bonis, who had been receiving treatment in the first half.
Within three minutes of the second period he came within a whisker of giving Larne the lead.
Mark Randall slipped the striker in on goal with ‘keeper Luke McNicholas doing well to get a hand on the ball, however McDaid composed himself before chipping goalwards only for Luke Turner to acrobatically deny him a certain goal on the line.
Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin shuffled his pack midway through the second period, introducing Rory Hale and club captain Chris Curran from the bench.
It almost paid immediate dividends when they got into a dangerous position on the left, as Levi Ives flashed the ball across the face of Larne’s goal, but no-one was close enough to poke the ball home.
With the clock ticking down, the home side were becoming more desperate in their attempts to break the deadlock with a goal which would take them top of the league.
The ball broke to sub Rory Hale on the edge of the box with eight minutes left but he drilled his shot well over.
The was as close as the Reds came, but Larne almost won it five minutes into stoppage time.
On the break Davy McDaid crossed from the left flank for sub Andy Mitchell but his fellow could only head straight at Luke McNicholas.
There was one final chance for Cliftonville through Levi Ives’ free-kick but it was straight at Rohan Ferguson.