Co Antrim Shield
Larne Scorer :
Tomas Cosgrove 76'
Linfield Yellow Cards :
Jordan Stewart, Kirk Millar
Larne Yellow Cards :
Dean Jarvis, Tomas Cosgrove, Graham Kelly, Rohan Ferguson
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Niall Quinn, Jimmy Callacher, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke (Ahmed Salam 78’), Kyle McClean (Martin Donnelly 78’), Jamie Mulgrew ©, Stephen Fallon, Kirk Millar (Andrew Clarke 84’), Jordan Stewart, Christy Manzinga
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh, Michael Newberry, Joshua Archer, Adam Carroll
Larne Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Tomas Cosgrove, Albert Watson, Cian Bolger, Graham Kelly, Dean Jarvis, John Herron, Mark Randall (Fuad Sule 78’), Ben Doherty, Ronan Hale (Kofi Balmer 90’), David McDaid (Lee Bonis 65’)
It was a tale of missed chances at both ends until Tomas Cosgrove’s late goal gave Larne the edge over Linfield in the County Antrim Shield final in front of a full house at Seaview.
The Blues were first to go close and it took just 25 seconds for the first effort. Blues captain Jamie Mulgrew turned smartly in the middle and after turning away from his man he found space before taking on a 25 yard drive which arrowed just over the crossbar.
Larne then threatened for the first after four minutes when Ben Doherty stormed onto a loose ball before drilling a low strike from outside the box which had to be stopped with assured hands by Chris Johns down low. They had a great chance five minutes later when they should have scored as Dean Jarvis found himself in space at the back post to meet Ben Doherty’s free-kick delivery from the right but the full back’s header was well saved by the foot of Chris Johns.
The Inver Reds were denied when they thought they’d took a 12th minute lead. Mark Randall’s quick thinking and good technique saw him find Tomas Cosgrove running in behind at a quick free-kick. Full-back Cosgrove reached the ball and put in a glorious delivery which was converted, however Cosgrove was adjudged to have been offside when the free-kick was hit.
Kirk Millar was unlucky for Linfield midway through the first half. The winger retrieved a great sweeping pass from Jimmy Callacher out the right side before beating the full-back with a shimmy and his curling effort likely would have either found the top corner or the head of Jordan Stewart had defender Albert Watson not rose well to head the ball behind.
Jordan Stewart must have thought he was about to put Linfield ahead towards the end of the half, too, when he hit a strike as sweet as a nut and it dipped but not quite enough as it flashed agonisingly inches over the bar with Larne ‘keeper Ferguson backtracking in angst. Minutes later, Stewart flashed a header wide from a great Niall Quinn cross and Stewart will have been disappointed not to take advantage from a good position after a well-timed run.
Half Time: Larne 0-0 Linfield
Tiernan Lynch’s men missed another glorious opportunity four minutes into the second half. David McDaid ran in behind Jimmy Callacher before pulling the ball across goal and it was retrieved by Tomas Cosgrove who shot with his left foot from inside the box but he fired wide when he should have found the net. Two minutes later, Larne forward Ronan Hale curled a brilliant effort just inches wide of the far post.
The Linfield faithful were on their feet expecting the net to ripple on the hour-mark when Kyle McClean slipped in Christy Manzinga to his right but the striker’s effort somehow trickled just wide of the post and no teammate was able to get a touch to convert it over the line.
Ronan Hale produced another great effort for Larne on 70 minutes but it was met by an equally superb save from Chris Johns who pushed a wicked swerving strike from distance over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Chris Johns made another great reflex save as he sprung to his left to push away a shot from Dean Jarvis after Larne kept the ball alive in the box.
In a long line of spectacular efforts to go agonisingly close, Matthew Clarke was next as he showed brilliant technique to meet a dropping ball on the volley and it dipped but again, not quite enough as it flashed marginally over the bar.
The breakthrough in the game finally arrived after 76 minutes when Ronan Hale hung up a cross to the back post for Tomas Cosgrove to power home a header to give Larne the lead.
A superb piece of defending kept Larne in front on 82 minutes when Jimmy Callacher clipped a cross over the head of the outrushing Rohan Ferguson as two defenders did enough to stop Christy Manzinga getting his head on it from close range.
Larne held on to win the County Antrim Shield but Linfield’s disappointment was compounded when for the second time in a few weeks a Linfield player was on the receiving end of a shocking challenge. Unfortunately, the consequences may well be more severe this time as Jordan Stewart felt the force of Fuad Sule’s tackle, for which the offender wasn’t even booked. Stewart was stretchered off the pitch.
Full Time: Larne 1 – 0 Linfield