Larne second as they edge cup rehearsal; Larne 2 Cliftonville 1.
CIS Cup finalists Larne and Cliftonville met at Inver Park on Saturday and it was the home side that went home happy after their 2-1 victory lifted them to second in the table.
To use an old cliche 'it was a game of two halves' with Larne slightly edging the first while the visitors totally dominated the second and
will still be wandering how they ended up empty handed.
Larne boss Tommy Kincaid agreed it was a hard earned victory.
"They are a good side which is why they are doing so well. They work really hard and play good football.
"It was very frustrating that we didn't play any football in the second half and found it hard to get out.
"We had done well in the first half and deserved to be in front. Cliftonville will rightly think they should have got something from the game but we have been in that situation and are happy to take the three points."
After Neil Candlish had fired O'Connor's pass wide Larne opened their account on nine minutes.
Maxwell's cross caused problems for the visitors defence. The ball broke to Mark Dickson who hammered a low shot past Stranney.
The home side extended their advantage ten minutes later.
Jim McCloskey's probing run was abruptly ended by Morgan in the box. Candlish took the spot kick and calmly grabbed his fourth goal in five games.
Cliftonville were back in the match on 31 minutes. Tumilty's sweetly struck free from 25 yards sailed past the two man wall and into the net before McDonald had time to move.
Tumilty then should have equalised but he headed Brannigan's pinpoint cross over the top.
The same player squandered another chance on 58 minutes stabbing wide with McDonald grounded.
Despite all their second half possession Cliftonville rarely threatened the home goal and it was Larne who went closest three minutes from time.
O'Connor cut in from the right to try a delicate lob which beat Straney only to rebound off the bar.
Cliftonville captain Mickey Donnelly, out through injury thought his team deserved at least a point. "The pitch didn't suit us today as we always want to get the ball down and play football.
"In the second half it was all one way traffic. We will be looking forward to the final as it will give us a chance to get quick revenge.
"We had a couple of players missing today and our forwards didn't perform too well."
MIRROR MAN OF THE MATCH
James McDonagh (Larne)
Another outstanding display against his former club
SO CLOSE.. HE HIT THE BAR
Barry Tumilty (Cliftonville)
Scored a goal, should have had two and never stopped running
How did they go?
THINGS just keep getting better and better for the Harbour Boys. In cup final and now second in the league.
THE Reds have had an excellent start to the season, but will be a little annoyed they didn't get something from this match.
GOALDEN BOY: Dickson got on the scoresheet
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Oct 20, 2003|
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