Lynch's Larne can take another huge step towards the league title

Pacemaker Press 22/10/22 Linfield v Larne Danske Bank Premiership. Larne Manager Tiernan Lynch during today’s game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Shaun Casey

Heading into the final few weeks of the Premiership season, Larne are storming out in front of the rest given their outstanding form of late, and a win today over third place Cliftonville will push them closer to the title.

Goals from Michael Glynn, his first for the club, and Lee Bonis saw the league leaders stretch their advantage at the top of the table to seven points when they saw off Glentoran 2-1 on Friday evening.

Cliftonville are nine-points adrift of the table toppers and they’re going into the game off the back of a draw with Coleraine. Ronan Hale nabbed two goals, his last coming in injury time to earn the Reds a hard-earned point.

Hale was the hero when Cliftonville last beat Larne, back in January, when they claimed a narrow 2-1 victory on home soil. But Larne haven’t lost a game since, and they reversed the result when the sides clashed in February as part of their incredible run to the top of the table.

Key to their form has been their unbreakable defence, that has only conceded twice since Hale handed Cliftonville victory just over three months ago. No one has kept more clean sheets throughout the season than Larne shot stopper Rohan Ferguson, with 21.

Closest is Chris Johns of Linfield, last year’s league champions, who are out on Wednesday evening. They drew in Crusaders on Friday and Stephen Baxter’s side hold home advantage this evening when they welcome Coleraine to the Seaview ground.

Crusaders have only won once in their last five outings, a recent 3-0 victory over Carrick Rangers, but on a positive note, they haven’t lost any of the other four games. All four ended in draws against Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Portadown and Linfield.

Crusaders hold the Indian sign over Coleraine in recent times, winning four of the last five meetings between the sides, including a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Paul Heatley and Adam Lecky back in February.

Coleraine sharpshooter Matthew Shevlin, the league’s top scorer with 21 goals, has been going through a dry spell of late, but his goal threat will still be of concern for the Crusaders defence.

In the bottom half of the table, the big clash is between Portadown FC and Newry City, who are both trying to survive the drop. Darren Mullen’s Newry hold the advantage with a seven-point lead over Portadown at the bottom of the table.

Newry have perhaps turned a corner with a James Teelan brace handing them their first win, a 2-0 victory over Carrick Rangers, since late February, having lost their last four league outings. Portadown have won two of their last four games, but still have a bit to do to remain in the division.

Dungannon Swifts are another relegation contender, and they trial Newry City by two points but will hope to close that gap today if they can beat Carrick Rangers, who are in terrible form having lost their last three games.

Ballymena are also experiencing a poor run of results, last winning in mid-January, and will be aiming for an unturn in fortunes when they meet Glenavon tonight.