Patrick McClean celebrated a new two-year contract by hitting Glentoran’s winning goal in a Danske Bank Premiership thriller at Inver Park.
The former Derry City defender bagged a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender with a sensational overhead kick which earned his team three crucial points.
It was the third team the teams have met this season – and it was the third time Mick McDermott’s men had savoured victory.
The home team got off to a great start, with Mark Randall hitting home a stunning free-kick.
But Paul O’Neill had the visitors in front before the interval with an eye-catching double strike.
Sean Graham levelled things up early in the second period, but it was McClean who produced that wonderful strike to win it – and the result moved the Glens up into fourth place in the league table.
Larne enjoyed a dream start with Randall smashing home the opener on four minutes. Martin Donnelly was hauled down by a clumsy challenge from McClean 30 yards out and the former Arsenal man stepped up to thunder home a beauty, leaving Marijan Antolovic totally helpless.
Glentoran responded with O’Neill and Hrvoje Plum firing over the top before Harry Flowers produced a great saving tackle on 18 minutes when Navid Nasseri was about to pull the trigger.
But the Glens were level 60 seconds later. Conor Pepper’s monster long throw came off the head of Larne defender Graham Kelly to Robbie McDaid, who cleverly picked out O’Neill and he curled a beauty into the top corner.
The action immediately switched to the other end with the home fans howling for a penalty kick when David McDaid was taken out by Antolovic, but referee Andrew Davey wasn’t interested.
Incredibly, O’Neill was at it again on 21 minutes. This time he latched on to a clever flick from McDaid and, after a pulsating 20-yard dash, he rammed an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.
Larne attempted to come back off the ropes with Johnny McMurray cutting in from the left, but Antolovic easily gathered the striker’s shot at the base of the post.
The hosts were almost level seconds before the interval when Randall’s delicious lofted pass picked out the unmarked McMurray, who shot against the legs of Antolovic.
Larne levelled nine minutes after the break. Tomas Cosgrove’s piercing run cut open the Glentoran defence and, when the ball broke to McMurray, he cleverly teed up Graham, who picked his spot in the bottom corner.
The home side were now brimming with confidence and Antolovic was forced to produce a wonderful finger-tip save to push away a stinging 25-yard drive from Randall.
It was end-to-end stuff. McClean forced Conor Devlin into a wonder save just after the hour when he tried his luck with an audacious 40-yard drive.
Then, from Plum’s corner-kick, McClean’s booming header finished in the arms of a relieved Devlin.
But, as the clock ticked down, it was McClean who won it with that spectacular strike that sent the big Glentoran following into raptures. Plum’s free-kick was headed on by Cameron Stewart and the defender’s overhead kick gave Devlin no chance.
LARNE: Devlin, Flowers, Kelly, Watson (McEleney, 76), Sule, Randall, McDaid, Donnelly, Graham (McKendry, 86), Cosgrove, McMurray.
Subs (not used): Mitchell, Ramsey, Tilney, Lynch, Gilmour.
GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Pepper (Murrray, 86), Peers, McClean, Kane, Gallagher, Plum, Nasseri (Herron, 58), Van Overbeek, McDaid, O’Neill (Stewart, 69).
Subs (not used): Crowe, Morris, Frazer, Garrett.
REFEREE: Andrew Davey.