Irish Premiership: Clinical Larne sink Cliftonville to go second

Larne moved to within five points of leaders Linfield with a 2-1 win against Cliftonville at Inver Park.

A fine header from Paul O'Neill and a low finish from Joe Thomson sealed a third straight league victory for the hosts, who leapfrog Cliftonville into second place.

Substitute Ronan Hale scored a late consolation for the Reds.

In-form Ben Wilson missed a big chances for the away side in the first minute of the game.

In a fast start at Inver Park, Wilson, who has 13 league goals already this season, was slipped through on goal by Rory Hale, and he wriggled past Cian Bolger before seeing his low effort palmed away by Rohan Ferguson in the Larne goal.

The former Brighton man was involved again three minutes later, dragging a low shot wide after being found in the box by Sam Ashford.

After a bright five minutes from the away side, Larne grew into the game, and went ahead with their first clear sight of goal on nine minutes.

Shaun Want picked out Thomson on the right hand side and he stood the ball up to former Cliftonville striker O'Neill, whose looping header nestled in the far corner.

O'Neill then tested David Odumosu on 12 minutes, with the goalkeeper producing a sprawling low save to deny the striker's poked effort from close range, after he latched onto Tomas Cosgrove's low cross.

Leroy Millar headed wide from a Mark Randall delivery, before Randall himself went close as his lofted effort took a deflection off Jonny Addis before hitting the crossbar.

At the other end, Ashford had two chances for the Reds, volleying over the crossbar and shooting wide with a low first time strike.

Jim Magilton's side were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal, with Thomson adding a second on 36 minutes.

The midfielder, who scored twice against Newry City last weekend, got on the end of Cosgrove's cross and saw his low shot take a slight deflection off Luke Turner, deceiving Odumosu before landing in the bottom corner.

After the frantic first half it was a much quieter second period, with the game springing back into life on 71 minutes, when Levi Ives diverted Turner's teasing cross onto his own crossbar, with Cliftonville unable to convert from the rebound.

Ronan Hale's low free-kick flew through a gap in the ball before being beaten away by Ferguson, as Cliftonville desperately looked for a route back into the game.

That would eventually come on 91 minutes, with Hale benefitting from a mistake from Ferguson to score the simplest of headers.

A long clearance from Odumosu was misjudged by Ferguson, who raced out of his goal only to palm the ball to Hale, who nodded home.

It would come too late for the Reds however, as Larne held on to stretch their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions.