By Peter Wilson at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena
THE final East Antrim derby of the season ended in a victory for Carrick Rangers with Caolan Loughran’s first half penalty enough to get the Rangers over the line.
This was Larne’s first league defeat of 2019 after Tiernan Lynch made seven changes from last week’s 3-0 home win over Ballinamallard United, while Carrick’s bid for a second place finish was strengthened.
It was Larne who carved out the best chance to move ahead in the opening 10 minutes; Graham Kelly picking out Thomas Stewart who beat the offside trap but looped his effort over the bar.
The home side should have been ahead on 25 minutes; a good break culminating in Chris Rodgers being in through on goal but the defender was denied by some superb work from Michael Dougherty with the ex-Crusaders keeper rushing out and snatching the ball from his feet.
The best chance of the half fell to David Scullion, but with goalkeeper Aaron Hogg stranded, he somehow missed the target.
However, Rangers took the lead just before half-time; Caolan Loughran sending Dougherty the wrong way from 12 yards after Michael Smith was brought down in the box.
Carrick may well have gone further ahead just before the hour mark when after a scramble in the Larne area from a corner, Loughran turned and blazed well over the bar. The on-loan Ballymena player was also unsuccessful eight minutes later when his free-kick from distance dipped just behind.
The Invermen wasted a massive opportunity to draw level with 10 minutes remaining; Kelly laying off to Martin Donnelly who crossed low into Benny Igiehon with the striker’s header edging agonisingly wide, while Paddy McNally’s neat turn and finish was just wide.
Carrick Rangers: Hogg, Coyle, Neale, Rodgers, Loughran, McMillen (Strain), Anderson, Chapman, Kelly, Nixon, Smith (Adamczyk)
Unused subs: McNeill, McDermott, McCauley
Larne: Dougherty, Ramsey, Kelly, Scullion, Stewart (Igiehon), Stuart, (Sule), Hassin, McNally, Tear (Donnelly), Cosgrove, Hughes
Unused subs: Devlin, McEleney
Referee: Declan Hassan
What’s up next?
Larne have a three-week break before their next league game at home to Portadown on Saturday 6 April (3pm).