Larne’s Aaron Donnelly turns his attentions to Monday’s crucial showdown with Linfield

The champions have a three-point lead with just two games left after a last-gasp win over Glentoran

Aaron Donnelly
Aaron Donnelly celebrates at the end of Larne’s dramatic Sports Direct Premiership win over Glentoran at the BetMcLean Oval on Tuesday night (SYSTEM)

AARON Donnelly believes Larne were rewarded for digging deep as they claimed a late, dramatic victory at the BetMcLean Oval which has given them some breathing space in the title race.

Tuesday’s encounter at Glentoran looked to be destined for a 1-1 draw until an unfortunate own goal from Johnny Russell in the 95th minutes gave Larne a 2-1 victory.

At the very same time, Coleraine were striking another late goal across Belfast at Windsor Park to draw 2-2 at Linfield and leave Larne three points clear at the top with just two games remaining.

Next up is the first versus second clash at Windsor on Monday night.

With Tiernan Lynch’s reigning champions also enjoying a huge goal difference advantage over the Blues, the home side will need to win to keep their title hopes alive.

Reflecting on Tuesday’s late drama, Donnelly feels results are all that matter at this stage of the season.

“It probably wasn’t the best game to be honest,” he said.

“However, we dug in deep and that helped to make sure we came out winners, which is what we were trying to do.

“It’s probably the sort of game where you feel you need to get over the line.

“At this stage of the season it’s all about the result. I don’t think Tiernan is going to worry too much about performances if the results aren’t there to match them.

“We don’t get too many late goals so thankfully it fell for us on Tuesday when we really needed it.

“Someone blocked Lee Bonis’ volley really late on and I was thinking to myself it was going to be one of those nights.

“Thankfully it fell for us even later, even though we know it was unfortunate for them.”

Tuesday’s victory capped off a fine few days for Donnelly, who claimed his first goal for Larne in their 8-1 victory over Cliftonville on Saturday.

He was delighted to get up and running in the goalscoring charts, but attention has already turned to that mouthwatering clash against Linfield.

“It was about time,” he joked about his goal.

“Yeah, it was nice to get my first goal for the club and with Tuesday it rounded off a nice couple of days.

“It’s all about looking ahead to Linfield now in what is going to be a huge game for us.

“After resting the legs for a day or so that will get our full attention now, because we know how  big it is going to be for everyone.”

Boss Lynch, meanwhile, is ready to quickly put the emotion of Tuesday to one side as he prepares for Monday’s encounter

“We probably got carried away with ourselves a bit in the emotion of it all,” Lynch said.

“It was such an emotional night and end to the game, it’s probably to be expected that the emotion comes out.

“However, we know the task ahead of us going into each of these last two games and there’s plenty for us still to do.

“It’s now time to dust ourselves down and get to work, because it’s three points and that’s all it is.

“We need to recover well and make sure we are prepared for Monday.”