Larne had to ‘dig deep’ says match-winner David McDaid
Striker Davy McDaid just couldn’t wipe the smile of his face after bagging a sensational winning goal against Glentoran at the BetMcLean Oval.
It was a game that had everything and one that kept the big Saturday night crowd on the edge of their seats right until the final blast of referee Steve Gregg’s whistle.
Amazingly, it’s the first time Larne have won at the East Belfast venue since 1978 – and McDaid’s goal was a fitting way to do it.
Having picked up a pass from Mark Randall, he jinked past defender Caolan Marron before looping a brilliant shot over the head of stranded goalkeeper Aaron McCarey from 25 yards.
Before that, the game was littered with bizarre goals. Andy Scott shot the visitors into an early lead from outside the box, but McCarey must shoulder the blame for that one.
Glentoran levelled when defender Kofi Balmer was caught in possession by Hrvoje Plum, whose cross was clinically dispatched by Jay Donnelly.
Larne were back in front early after the restart when Donnelly’s attempted clearance smashed against the face of Glens’ defender Rhys Marshall and into the net.
But the Glens levelled again with another defensive blunder when Shay McCartan’s cross rebounded off Tomas Cosgrove and the greasy ball fizzed past Rohan Ferguson.
Even after McDaid’s wonder goal, Larne almost shot themselves in the foot deep into injury time when Balmer slipped on the wet surface, gifting Donnelly a free run at goal, but his low drive was brilliantly saved by Ferguson.
“It was end-to-end at times...there were some good goals and some bizarre goals,” said match-winner McDaid. “Our games with Glentoran are usually tight...we cancel each other out, this one was anything but.
“There were loads of mistakes, but some great play from both teams, which made for a really open match. We knew we would have to work hard to get anything from it.
“It was a huge three points for us. We are at our best when we are on the front foot. Our pressing game is what we are built on and we had some great passages of play when we were in possession.
“We limited Glentoran to very little in terms of goal opportunities. Their goals came our mistakes...they didn’t create an awful lot.
“They did get one big chance right at the end. Jay Donnelly is the most in-form player and probably the best striker in the League in my opinion, but it took a fantastic save from Rohan Ferguson to stop him scoring.”
On his goal, McDaid added: “I was lucky because I fell over when I hit it. I think it (the ball) bobbled a few times before I caught it, but I was delighted to see it hit the back of the net.
“We had to dig deep to win the game, the boys did exceptionally well. Glentoran could have levelled with the last kick of the game...it was one of those games that it probably was great for the neutral, but hectic for the respective managers.
“Some results haven’t gone our way this season. We should have been winning games, but we were missing big chances and giving away silly goals.
“Had Jay scored when he went through on a one-on-one that would have summed up the way things have been going for us, so hopefully this can be a big turning point for us.”
Glentoran boss Mick McDermott believes his team gifted Larne their goals.
“We conceded too many soft goals – all three were poor,” he said. “People will say McDaid’s was a brilliant strike, but when a ball is played in to the centre-forward, we can’t have our centre-half being rolled . . . and then we can’t have a 25-yard shot dip over our goalkeeper.
“The first goal was the same. The ball was switched and the young lad was allowed to cut inside...I’m not even sure if it was a shot, but it finished up in the net.
“Their second goal was a comedy of errors, there is no other way to describe it.”
GLENTORAN: McCarey, J Jenkins (Mitchell 66), Burns, McCartan, Marshall, J Donnelly, R Donnelly, McClean, Clucas, Marron, Plum (Smith 72).
Unused subs: Garrett, Russell, Wightman, Glendinning, Morris.
LARNE: Ferguson, Balmer, Kelly, Watson, Herron, Nasseri (Jarvis 89), McDaid (Hale 76), Doherty, Scott, Mitchell (Randall 66), Cosgrove.
Unused subs: Argyrides, Lusty, Sloan, Aretzis.
REFEREE: Steven Gregg.