Larne: League leaders lift full points with win over Portadown

Larne manager Tiernan Lynch. Pic by Pacemaker.
Larne manager Tiernan Lynch. Pic by Pacemaker.

Title favourites Larne finished with three points for the 12th time in 14 league appearances courtesy of a convincing 3-0 success over Portadown at Shamrock Park.

Larne grabbed early control in the high-profile and high-stakes clash by breaking the deadlock with 13 minutes on the clock when the impressive Ben Tilney burst into the box and drilled a low cross towards the target.

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton.

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton.

Although there was some confusion over the final touch, with Portadown centre-back Adam McCallum and goalkeeper Declan Dunne both involved, there was little question over Larne’s control across the first half.

The Bluefin Sport Championship leaders played with an air of authority as Portadown struggled to build any momentum.

The hosts’ most positive period before the break came in the aftermath of the opening goal.

Chris Lavery won possession off Shane McEleney and his cross proved just beyond both Kevin Braniff at the front post and Ryan Carmichael at the far upright.

Braniff then displayed clever footwork in the penalty area to dance into space and whip a ball goalwards but Conor Devlin pushed out the attempt.

Larne, however, cemented control off a corner-kick just before the half-hour mark when Martin Donnelly’s set-piece was headed home by Paddy McNally.

Dunne was alert to stop a Tilney drive before Devlin blocked Jamie Douglas’ shot from distance.

Dunne produced two saves in quick succession over the initial stages of the second half off back-to-back teasing Donnelly corner-kicks to deny Jeff Hughes then David Scullion.

Portadown pressed and probed in search of a way back into contention and Lavery almost capped Carmichael’s clever work with a reward but the first shot was blocked and second drifted wide.

Larne may have lacked the majority of minutes on the ball after the interval but proved decisive in the danger area with number three on 64 minutes as Tomas Cosgrove slipped a pass for Donnelly to control and convert.

PORTADOWN: Dunne, Carson, Neill, McCallum, Flynn, Lavery, Kilmartin (Storey, 67), Braniff, Wilson (Hutchinson, 76), Carmichael, Douglas (Salley, 63).

Subs (not used): Blair, Thompson.

LARNE: Devlin, Sule, McEleney, Kelly, Scullion (Stuart, 74), McDaid (Hassin, 84), Donnelly, Tilney, McNally, Cosgrove, Hughes.

Subs (not used): Dougherty, Henry, Ramsey.

Referee: Tony Clarke.