Watson uses his head to book Shield semi-final date

Oct 12, 2022 | Uncategorised

Albert Watson headed home the only goal of the game as Larne edged out derby rivals Ballymena United in a County Antrim Shield quarter-final tie at Inver Park.

Tiernan Lynch’s men will now take on Dundela at Wilgar Park on Tuesday 15th November for a place in the final.

Larne made nine changes coming into the game and looked a little disjointed in the opening half, but got better as the game wore on.

The only survivors from the team which started against Newry on Friday was striker Paul O’Neill and Shea Gordon.

The first half chance arrived with 15 minutes gone as young Larne striker Matty Lusty chased what looked like a lost cause in the Ballymena box, but Sean O’Neill got their first to snuff out the danger.

Six minutes later Larne went close again as the home side worked the ball out to the right flank. Teenager Sean Brown saw his cross cleared as far as Shea Gordon, just outside the area, but the midfielder steered his shot just off target.

As the half wore on, Ballymena’s experience began to tell and the Braidmen took charge.

Andy Scott gave the ball away inside his own half with United quick to move the ball to their left flank, where Kenny Kane was in space. He elected to shoot early but fired his effort into the midriff of Larne goalkeeper Jack McIntyre.

The visitors then should really have been ahead on 37 minutes. From a cross on the left Jordan Gibson steered an effort goalwards, which home skipper Jeff Hughes did well to clear off the line. The ball fell to Davy McDaid but he fired over from point blank range.

Larne began the second half with much more purpose and eight minutes into the new half boss Tiernan Lynch made a triple switch.

It saw Lee Bonis enter the fray, as well as captain Tomas Cosgrove. They both had a hand as the latter fizzed a dangerous cross into the box, with no-one there to apply the finishing touch.

A minute later the lively Andy Scott cut in from the left and curled not far past O’Neill’s far post.

After this flurry of activity in the final third the game hit a bit of a lull, until Larne broke the deadlock with 20 minutes remaining.

Aaron Donnelly, another of Lynch’s subs, floated a free-kick from just inside the United half to the back post and Albert Watson nodded home his first goal of the season.

This sparked Ballymena into life knowing they needed to find a goal and they almost did just that within a minute.

Steven McCullough picked the ball up on the left flank and evaded two challenges before cutting in a letting fly with his unfavoured right foot, with the effort whistling just wide of McIntyre’s post.

Victory for Larne could have been assured with three minutes left. A long ball forward from Larne caused Sean O’Neill to race out of his box to head clear. The ball then fell to Matty Lusty, but with he chipped just over an unguarded goal from 30 yards.

Larne: McIntyre, Kelly (’80 Want), Watson, Kearns, Randall (’53 Cosgrove), O’Neill (’53 Bonis), Scott, Gordon (’53 A Donnelly), Hughes, Lusty, Brown (’77 Hutchison)

Unused Subs: Ferguson, C Donnelly

Ballymena United: O’Neill, Redman (’58 Nelson), Whiteside, McDaid, Kelly, Waide (’77 Parkhouse), McCullough, Kane, Gibson, Keeley, Graham (’67 Place)

Unused subs: Loughran, Henderson, Clarke, Farquhar

Referee: Raymond Crangle


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