Jealousy something Larne boys will have to deal with: Tomas Cosgrove
Danske Bank Irish Premiership: Larne v Crusaders (Tonight, Inver Park, 7.45pm)
LARNE defender Tomas Cosgrove believes other Premiership clubs and supporters are “jealous” of the east Antrim club's fantastic renaissance over the past couple of seasons – and insists they are still firmly in the title race despite slumping to a couple of defeats.
Tiernan Lynch's men have suffered back-to-back losses to Cliftonville (1-0) and Linfield (2-1) and dropped silly points since the end of the Christmas circuit-breaker, which sees them slip to third behind leaders Linfield and Coleraine.
Cosgrove shouldered responsibility following his error that gifted Linfield the points in last Friday night's pulsating clash at Windsor Park.
But no-one around Inver Park is pressing the panic button.
“The circuit-breaker hurt us as it took away our momentum,” said Cosgrove.
“But no excuses. We've just made too many mistakes, it's constant mistakes. You saw the two goals we gave away against Linfield last Friday – a penalty and then I tried to play the ball out [for Linfield's second goal] and gave it away in an area I shouldn't be giving it away.
“But I'm big enough to deal with it. I put my hands up. But we're nowhere near out of it. We'll get a run together and we'll be flying again.”
Larne are aiming to get back to winning ways at home to Crusaders this evening who have slumped to fifth.
Lynch has proven himself to be one of the most impressive managers in local football since taking the Larne reins following a coaching spell at Glentoran.
Some have looked on with envy at the cash injection Larne has received in recent seasons too.
“I think there are a lot of people who want the club to fail,” insisted Cosgrove, who left Cliftonville for Larne in July 2018.
“I don't know if it's jealousy or whatever. I don't think they like to see teams outside of Belfast doing well. You feel as teams are giving it everything to topple us but we have to overcome that and deal with it.
“It's a good challenge, it's good that people want to put it up to you. But you'd rather have the pressure of the top rather than the bottom."
The 28-year-old Ardoyne man, who was a firm favourite at Cliftonville, added: “The league itself is getting better and better but some of our results have been self-inflicted. Some of our mistakes have been criminal.
“We go out and we like to play a certain way. When we beat Linfield in December we were brilliant and everyone was talking about us, but when we do something wrong, all that changes, but we'll not change our philosophy.
“We are still playing well but stupid mistakes against Linfield, another couple against Coleraine and one against Cliftonville have cost us.
“We just need to get back to clean sheets because they were giving us platforms in games but at the minute we're always chasing games.
“We need to be really, really brave and confident and I've no doubt things will turn for us very quickly.”
Midfielder John Herron is available after suspension for the visit of the Crues, but Marty Donnelly is still a couple of games away from action after injury.
Elsewhere, Larne will be hoping Glentoran can take the scalp of leaders Linfield again in the space of a week with Mick McDermott's side having home advantage (The Oval, 7.30pm).
Ballymena United will still be licking their wounds after shipping a late goal from Cliftonville's Paul O'Neill seven days ago as the sides meet again at the Showgrounds (7.45pm).
Linfield's nearest rivals Coleraine are five points off the pace-setters as the Bannsiders host Portadown (7.45pm).
Barry Gray's Warrenpoint will hope to pull away from the bottom few teams at home to rock bottom Dungannon Swifts this evening (7.45pm), while Glenavon are aiming for four wins on the trot as they host Carrick Rangers (7.45pm) who have lost their last three after a brief revival.