A controversial second half penalty left Lurgan Celtic fuming at the end of this encounter at Knockramer Park.
The award was harsh to say the least but it brought Larne back to 2-2 and they went on to take all three points.
Manager Colin Malone opted to move striker Raymond Fitzpatrick to central defence with Ruairi McCann and Ronan O’Hara returning to midfield and Daniel Wilson taking the bench.
In the fifth minute Dale Malone received the ball with his back to goal and was rashly tackled from behind with the referee awarding a penalty to the Hoops, Chris Lavery stepping up to net confidently
Larne then tried to play their way into the game stunned by this early setback causing a few problems to the Celtic defence but the Hoops were still looking dangerous in attack with little to choose between the sides although Aaron Haire was proving a big thorn in the Larne defence. On the half hour the Hoops extended the lead with a contender for goal of the season when Lavery took delivery of a pass on the right side and moved towards the defenders,stopped and checked his run and cut inside his marker drifted inside two more defenders and from 25 yards out unleashed an unstoppable drive into the keepers right hand top corner.
Both sides continued to attack and Larne got back into the game when slack defensive work allowed Paul Maguire to slot home past an isolated Conor McCorry in the home goal two minutes before the break.
On the resumption of the second half came a moment of real controversy. A Celtic attack was repelled with Larne breaking upfield and as an attacker bore down on goal Fitzpatrick made a great tackle to take the ball away from the striker’s toes as he was about to shoot and the official signalled for a penalty despite the assistant referee signalling for a corner.
When everything settled down Guilleame Keke scored the spot kick making the score 2-2 . Stung by this perceived injustice Celtic set about their opponents with renewed vigor and Josh Barton almost restored the lead later when his chipped shot went narrowly wide. The Hoops maintained the pressure pinning Larne back and Barton was unlucky to see a drive hit a defender’s foot and strike the bar while on 75 minutes Lavery sent in a cross but McCann jumped too late and he connected with his header underneath the ball sending it narrowly over the bar when a score looked certain.
With five minutes to go O’Hara was replaced by Stevie Toland as the Hoops sought the winner but after a vital save from McCorry a throw in on the left saw Maguire receive the ball in space and slot home the winner on 89 minutes to the disappointment of the whole Celtic contingent at the game.
The McLeans Man of the Match was Chris Lavery . This week Celtic are without a game due to the Intermediate Cup being played and league action resumes on Sat 28th away to Bangor. The reserve side had the game against Loughall Res called off due to a waterlogged pitch. The match ball was sponsored by Pat Vernon Solicitors, Lurgan.