Mark Randall goal gives Larne winning finale to first European adventure

Larne’s European journey may have come to an end at Inver Park - but they went out on a high with another memorable performance.

By Steven Crawford
Thursday, 12th August 2021, 9:45 pm

Trailing 4-0 to Pacos de Ferreira from the first leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie, Tiernan Lynch’s men showed from the first whistle they weren’t about to go out with a whimper.

They took the game to their Portuguese opponents and deservedly grabbed the goal their performance so richly deserved when Mark Randall slotted home with seven minutes to go.

It may not have mattered much in the grand scheme of the tie overall but for Larne and their supporters it was the perfect way to bring the curtain down on their first foray into European competition.

Larne goalscorer Mark Randall and team-mates following the final whistle at Inver Park in victory over Pacos de Ferreira, with the side from Portugal securing a 4-1 success on aggregate. Pic by INPHO.

The first-leg scoreline didn’t diminish Larne’s attacking instincts as they went at the visitors from the kick-off, roared on by a passionate home support.

Ronan Hale’s pace was troubling the Pacos de Ferreira backline, with Tomas Cosgrove almost sending the striker in on goal with a superb pass with two minutes on the clock.

Hale almost wriggled free again a minute later but Marco Baixinho recovered with a last-gasp tackle in the box.

The hosts called for a penalty but the referee said the defender played the ball.

At the other end, Larne were standing up to the challenge posed to them, restricting the visitors to very little as the game moved towards the midway point of the first half.

Pacos keeper Andre Ferreira was forced to take evasive action on 36 minutes to palm away a loose ball after a clever knockdown by Albert Watson from a Randall set-piece.

It was right on half-time before Rohan Ferguson was called into action as he comfortably dealt with Matchoi Djalo’s long-range effort.

The Larne keeper was nothing more than a spectator as Silva De Jesus weaved his way into the penalty area four minutes after the restart.

It looked like he would open the scoring on the night after beating three home defenders, but his shot crashed off the upright as Ferguson looked on.

The visitors dominated possession for large parts of the second half but, to their credit, Larne kept plugging away for a winner on the night.

And they almost got it with 12 minutes to go as Randall surged forward before unleashing a superb drive from 25 yards out.

The whole ground rose expecting the ball to hit the back of the net, but it crashed off the upright with Ferreira beaten.

There was to be no reprieve for the visitors five minutes later though as a long ball from Ferguson was misjudged by the Pacos defence and Randall took full advantage, racing on to it before lashing a shot into the far corner.

Yet again the roof was lifted off Inver Park on this incredible European adventure, which looks to be the first of many.

Larne: Ferguson, Balmer, Watson, Herron (Lynch, 86), Randall, Hale (Lusty, 79), Mitchell (Scott, 63), Bolger, Cosgrove, Hughes, Jarvis.

Subs (not used): Argyrides, Robinson, McDaid, Lynch.

Pacos de Ferreira: A.Ferreira, Baixinho, H.Ferreira (Jesus, 70), Ibrahim (Pires, 60), Silva de Jesus (Baeza, 69), Djalo (Santos, 60), Bastos, Silva, Ramos, Pedro (Souza, 70), Eustaquio.

Subs (not used): Almeida, Oliveira, Lima, Antunes, Junior, Baeza, Carlos, Fernando.

Referee: Fran Jovic.