Ballymena United 0-3 Larne
By Paul Alexander
Lee Lynch scored twice after a Jeff Hughes penalty on Saturday afternoon to create a three-point gap between Larne and Ballymena United in the Danske Bank Premiership table.
There was also a 3-0 victory after the two rivals’ last league meeting at the Ballymena Showgrounds in December 2007, although this time it belonged to the Reds.
Tiernan Lynch’s side went ahead after a fifth minute penalty. Declan Carville tripped Lee Lynch as he was about to enter the 6-yard box and Jeff Hughes dispatched the spot-kick with a powerful finish past Ross Glendinning.
The next notable opportunity of the encounter also came from the visitors on 31 minutes. Lynch received the ball on the right wing before squaring it to Johnny McMurray. Although the former Ballymena striker directed the ball over the crossbar from around six yards out.
Larne then gave themselves a two-goal advantage with five minutes of the first half left to play. From the right, McMurray produced a low cross which was tapped in by Lynch at the far post.
In the 43rd minute McMurray pushed forward from a central position and played the ball to his left to Ben Tilney. The wide midfielder played it back to McMurray but his effort was gathered by Glendinning.
Ballymena’s Kenny Kane came close during the four minutes of stoppage time at the end of the opening period. The forward tried shot from distance from the right which dropped onto the roof of the away net.
Aaron Burns also had a chance for the Braidmen with five minutes of the second half played. First-half substitute Ryan Mayse poked the ball forward for Burns whose tame attempt was saved by Conor Devlin.
The away side had their third goal when Lynch recorded his second of the game five minutes later. The right-sided midfielder guided the ball into the top right corner of the hosts’ goal from the left side of the penalty area.
United had an opportunity to deny Larne their clean sheet on 82 minutes. Kane advanced into the 18-yard box from the right wing before playing a fine low ball in front of goal. The striker’s cross reached Mayse at the back post who sent the ball well over the bar.
Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, Addis, Ervin, Balmer, Lavery, Aaron Burns, Carville (McGinty, 68), J. Kelly (Andrew Burns, 68), McGrory, Friel (Mayse, 14), K. Kane
Subs not used: Williamson, Knowles, Reece Glendinning, Annett
Larne: Devlin, G. Kelly, Flowers, Watson, Cosgrove, Tilney, Hughes (McEleney, 63), Sule, Lynch, McDaid, McMurray (Graham, 73)
Subs not used: Mitchell, Ramsey, McKendry, Andrade, Gilmour
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Lee Lynch (Larne)