Andy Ryan marks first league start in almost two months by netting in victory over Glentoran as Larne move top of Premiership table
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Tiernan Lynch’s men have moved one point ahead of Linfield, who’ve played two games fewer and host struggling Ballymena United at Windsor Park on Saturday.
Having struggled with an injury picked up in September, Scottish ace Ryan has been slowly eased back into action but showed his usual predatory instincts by nudging Paddy McClean out of the way before slotting calmly under an onrushing Aaron McCarey in the 10th minute, marking a 14th goal in 27 league appearances since joining from Hamilton Academical in January.
Larne doubled their advantage seven minutes into the second-half when Levi Ives’ cross wasn’t dealt with by a number of visiting defenders before an unmarked Leroy Millar slammed home.
Glentoran found hope through their brightest attacking spark in David Fisher as he smashed emphatically past Rohan Ferguson, making room to unleash a vicious 69th minute shot following good work from Cammy Palmer.
The Inver Reds remain undefeated at home in the league in 2023 with this their 18th consecutive match since suffering defeat.
After going one down early on, the visitors were perhaps fortunate not to be reduced to 10-men moments later when Josh Kelly, who was one of two changes from Glentoran’s 5-0 drubbing of Ballymena last weekend, caught former Sky Blues teammate Sean Graham with a high challenge, but referee Ian McNabb brandished yellow instead.
In a first-half that was played at a frantic pace but lacked any really meaningful attempts on goal following Ryan’s opener, Joe Thomson came close to scoring his sixth goal in five games only for his left-footed effort to whizz past McCarey’s post.
The visitors enjoyed a bright spell prior to the break and had appeals for a penalty waved away in the 36th minute when Junior collided with Tomas Cosgrove.
Larne went two ahead shortly after the restart with Millar – last season’s Premiership Player of the Year – tapping home from close range.
Fisher looked like Glentoran’s main threat all evening and so it proved when he fired past Ferguson with 20 minutes to play.
Injury issues are continually piling up for Feeney – Bobby Burns, Rhys Marshall, Luke McCullough and Jay Donnelly were just a few that missed this encounter – and there was further bad news on that front when Aidan Wilson was forced off.
Goalkeeper McCarey almost proved to be the hero after coming up for a late corner, but his header was directed straight at Ferguson.
The Oval outfit dominated proceedings for the majority of the closing stages, but were unable to find an equaliser, meaning they’ve now won just one of their last five league matches and a winless away record also extends to five.
They’ll travel to Carrick Rangers for a County Antrim Shield semi-final on Tuesday evening before hosting rivals Linfield in a Big Two derby next Friday.