NAFL PREMIER LEAGUE… League Match.
Ardglass 4 Larne Tech 1
Ardglass were back in form as visitors Larne Tech who were also promoted to the Premier League this season were put through a grueling early season test.
The match started off with Ricky Kerr breaking through Larne defense and taking his shot only to be blocked and then Ardglass keeper Mark Mullan made a terrific crucial save as Larne showed their teeth early on in the match.
In the first ten minutes it was a fairly even match with no real dominant team. But gradually the Ardglass midfield became more active and the match tilted more towards the home side who showed a better close passing and flow with the ball.
A great opportunity emerged when centre defender Ian Kearney sent a cross through to lurking forward Michael Magee who turned and struck but the ball and just missed the top bar.
In the 22nd minute Michael Magee opened up the score sheet with a low scorcher to the right post from the back of the Larne box putting Larne keeper Smyth at full stretch.
Then in another excellent move, James Telford put through to Kerr who took on three defenders but shot just wide of the net from inside the box.
A bit of drama unfolded as the first half was unwinding when Larne Tech’s Damien McLaughlin netted a great flying header from a free kick given away by Lee McEvoy but the referee’s whistle blew a split second afterwards disallowing it as an offside goal.
But gradually Ardglass were proving to be the better performer on the day and started to put a stranglehold on Larne Tech.
Larne certainly had aspirations of pulling back an equaliser but Ardglass were starting to look confident and determined to put Larne to the sword.
The second half started with Ardglass nibbling away at the Larne defense, probing for openings. Ian Kearney also scored when he took a free lick into the Larne box duping everyone he was playing the ball to his forwards when he shot at goal and it took a tremendous save from keeper Smyth to stop it
Kerr then after a long build up by Ardglass rocket a header at the Larne goal but hat too was saved. Ardglass were mounting more successful attacks yet Larne could not be written off as they too were determined to fight to the last. Ryan Kane almost score with a low volley when put through by Butchely.
If a fault could be leveled at Ardglass as they cranked up their challenge on Larne, it was that on occasions their attacks were weakened by players holding the ball too long and not releasing quickly enough it making the attack even more deadly.
Chris Taggart, Ricky Kerr, Stephen Deegan and Gareth Telford were connecting well with plenty of long passes but they were difficult in the swirling wind.
Inevitably, Kerr scored the second for Ardglass by blasting the ball at the Larne keeper and it rolled through his legs slowly over the line in the 70th minute.
Three minutes later the ball broke through the Larne midfield and Stephen Deegan picked it up running into open space to face the keeper who came out to meet him. Deegan chipped the ball nonchalantly over his head to make it 3-0 for Ardglass.
Ardglass now were playing with a superb confidence but did not want to take their foot off the pedal. But is was Larne who struck next when they pulled back a goal from a penalty by Thompson in the 83rd minute after an obstruction by the Ardglass keeper on Kane who was racing towards the goal in possession.
But the excitement wasn’t yet over as Larne battled to try the impossible and claw back to an equalizer and a point… which they this year yet have not notched up.
It was Ricky Kerr who finished off the visitors with a great play as he rose for a cross on a one-to-one with Larne defender Adam Black. Kerr caught the ball superbly with his head and sent it straight into the Larne net with minutes to go.
This was a convincing effort by Ardglass who have played a couple of nervy games since they fired up in the Premier League. But now they are settling down and will give a good account of themselves over the season.
Ardglass; Mark Mullan, Aaron McGarry, Lee McEvoy, Ryan Curran, Ian Kearney, James Telford, Stephen Deegan, Gareth Telford, Richard Kerr, Michael Magee, Chris Taggart.
Larne Tech: Gary Smyth, Andrew Bell, Neil Curnew, Adam Black, Reece Moore, Gary Butchley, Cyril McCosh, Ryan Kane, Leigh Thompson, Damien McLaughlin, Sean Ward.