Report: Andrew Morrison
Photo: Bill Guiller
Navid Nasseri’s late goal wasn’t enough for Larne to get victory over Linfield as the sides drew 1-1 in front of a sell-out Inver Park on Monday night.
Nasseri’s goal came on 79 minutes but fellow substitute Jordan Stewart popped up with one of his own to level the match.
The draw sees Larne move a point closer to Coleraine, who are in third place having played a game more than the Invermen.
The early stages saw a moment of panic for Larne goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson after receiving the ball his attempted first time pass was blocked by the onrushing Matthew Green. However, luckily for the shot stopper it went straight out for a goal kick.
Meanwhile, the first half chance for the home side came just moments Later and once again Ferguson was heavily involved. His long pass up field managed to find Lee Lynch who received the ball 30 yards from the Linfield goal. After beating his man his shot from the edge of the area went wide of the post.
A positive start from the Inver Reds continued when a nicely worked move saw the ball played out to Dean Jarvis in an advanced position. His first time ball behind the away defence found Ronan Hale but his strike went over the bar.
As the match progressed the Inver Reds maintained control of the game and continued to win the ball deep into the Linfield half. Despite their pressure they failed to created little in terms of guilt edge chances and it remained 0-0.
Then in the 29th minute an over the top ball to Manzinga saw Rohan Ferguson come out of his box and bring the forward down for a free kick in the corner. With the visitors clearing feeling the challenge was dangerous a brief coming together between the sides led to three yellow cards.
Moments later Larne won a free kick of their own, this time in the corner of the Linfield half. A floated ball from Ben Doherty found Kofi Balmer at the back post however the defender was unable to add to his seasons tally as his effort went wide of the post.
As the half came to a close Linfield began to grow into the game but like the home side could not create a clear cut opportunity before the break.
Half Time: Larne 0-0 Linfield
The opening minutes of the second half saw the traveling side continue where they left off in the first. Increasingly growing in confidence they began to go forward in numbers but Larne looked a threat on the counter.
After 58 minutes Ben Doherty picked up the ball at the half way line and played a magnificent diagonal to Andrew Scott in space before his shot was saved by Johns.
The chance clearly gave the Inver Reds a boost as three efforts from Scott, Cosgrove and Balmer followed in quick succession but all failed to find the net.
As both sides began to call upon their substitutes the game began to even out with every Larne attack being cut out by the pairing of Callacher and Roscoe-Byrne at the back.
With 11 minutes left on the clock Lynch played a great ball forward to David McDaid who held the ball up against the visiting defenders before linking up with fellow substitute Navid Nasseri. The winger calmly dribbled beyond the penalty spot before slotting past Johns in goal to make it 1-0 against his former side.
Just ten minutes after falling behind Linfield won a free kick in a wide position. Marty Donnelly stepped up to take the set-piece and managed to pick out Jordan Stewart unmarked at the penalty spot from which he headed in for 1-1.
That goal proved to be the last as neither side managed to find a match winner in there closing moments of the game.
Larne: 34 Rohan Ferguson (GK), 2 Kofi Balmer, 5 Fuad Sule, 6 John Herron, 9 Ronan Hale, 11 Ben Doherty, 14 Andrew Scott, 16 Lee Lynch, 23 Tomas Cosgrove, 24 Jeff Hughes (C), 26 Dean Jarvis
Subs: 7 Navid Nasseri (65), 10 David McDaid (68), Andrew Mitchell (83)
Linfield: 1 Christopher Johns (GK), 2 Samuel Roscoe-Byrne, 5 Christopher Shields, 6 Jimmy Callacher, 7 Kirk Miller, 8 Trai Hume, 9 Christy Manzinga, 16 Matthew Clarke, 20 Stephen Fallon, 22 Jamie Mulgrew (C), 77 Matthew Green
Subs: 10 Jordan Stewart (65), 31 Niall Quinn (65), 22 Martin Donnelly (84), 30 Will Chadwick (84)
Referee: Tim Marshall