Killyleagh YC 1 Larne Tech OB 2.
Larne won the top of the table clash with a 69th minute winner at The Showgrounds on Saturday.
Although this is only their second defeat of the season, it dents Killyleagh’s hopes of promotion into the Amateur League’s Premier Section writes Chris Hagan.
If the YC thought they could, and should, have won the corresponding scoreless league fixture at the Larne venue in February, they could have few complaints at this defeat. Too many failed to perform against a team who showed a greater hunger and energy.
Larne dominated the opening 20 minutes and the only surprise was that they had only one goal to show for it against a strangely subdued Killyleagh.
Paul Maguire scored from a well worked corner after just 10 minutes.
Craig Todd and Sean Ward then both went close as Killyleagh were swamped in midfield.
A tactical change by YC manager Paul Sharvin enabled his side to get a foothold in the game and Johnny Cheevers went close with a header before BJ McMenamin’s cross was well blocked by Conan Mulvenna.
Killyleagh’s big chance came in the 38th minute. A slack back pass was pounced on by Jack Sharvin. He raced through, drew Tech keeper Brendan Quinn but Michael McKenna cleared off the line as McMenamin prepared to pounce.
At the opposite end Aaron Carberry produced a stunning save to deny Maguire. Then in the next Larne attack Macaulay Foster somehow managed to race back and hook Lee Thompson’s shot off the line to leave it 1-0 at the interval.
To their credit Killyleagh improved in the second half and in a role reversal from the previous half, they started to dominate, thanks largely to Jamie Sharvin’s influence.
However, Larne were content to hit on the break at this stage and never looked seriously threatened until they conceded a penalty in the 58th minute. When Jack Sharvin was fouled in the penalty box, he stepped up to make it 1-1.
Manager Sharvin went for the win, introducing Stevie Kennedy but it was Larne who reclaimed the lead in the 69th minute. A defensive slip with a defender losing his footing allowed Thompson in and despite Cheevers’ best efforts, he was able to slide the ball across for influential sub Kelan McAuley to sidefoot home
Killyleagh threw everything at it in the last five minutes and Barry Treacy was denied by a super save and then Jack Sharvin was unlucky to see his effort from the edge of the box skim just over.
With Killyleagh pressing and throwing men forward, Larne had three big chances to copper fasten the win but Carberry saved well from Thompson, and soon after Maguire and McAuley spurned chances.
It left it open for a late surge from Killyleagh and twice Foster went close with headers from Treacy crosses and then right at the death Quinn somehow pushed away Kennedy’s goal bound effort.
Killyleagh have one game left to play next Tuesday night, away to the Orangefield side who are hot in pursuit of that promotion spot.
* Everyone at The Showgrounds is saddened to learn of the death of Mrs Rita Matthews, the widow of one of our founders, Mr Barlow Matthews. She was a life-long supporter who worked quietly behind the scenes helping with catering and fundraising for many years after the formation of the club.
Killyleagh YC: Aaron Carberry, Jonathan Cheevers, Macaulay Foster, Kieran Sullivan, Niall Walsh. Lee Morrison, Barry Treacy, Jamie Sharvin (C), Brendan McMenamin, Jack Sharvin, Jonathan Sharvin. Subs: Stephen Kennedy, Jonathan Murray, Robert Hagan.
Larne Tech OB: Brendan Quinn, Scott Todd, Conan Mulvenna, Michael McKenna, Matthew Hyslop, Scott McNally (C), Craig Todd, Christopher Morton, Paul Maguire, Sean Ward,Lee Thompson. Subs: Niall McAllister, Kelan McAuley, Ryan McNickle. S