Lisburn Distillery ended their stay in NIFL Championship One with a disappointing 6-1 defeat away to Larne last weekend.
With 65 minutes on the clock and the scores locked at 0-0, few would have predicted that the hosts would romp home comfortably against a Distillery side who once again showed their fragility after going behind.
Larne had gone into this game needing rivals Institute to lose and for a seven goal swing to happen if they were to make the end of season play off for promotion to the Danske Premiership, but for much of the game this looked extremely unlikely as the gutsy Whites kept them at bay throughout an uninspiring first half.
The only real efforts came from Larne’s Scott Irvine whose effort cannoned back off the inside of the Distillery post, and a Keke header which was superbly saved by the Whites young ‘keeper Jake Nelson.
Word was coming through from elsewhere that Insitute had slipped behind at Ballyclare, a goal which gave the hosts a mere glimmer of hope of turning things around.
Even then the Whites to the man were defending well thwarting everything that was thrown their way.
That was until the 65th minute when a long punt forward by Larne ‘keeper Brennan led to confusion in the Whites defence and the ever alert Keke was able to stab the ball home to give the hosts the lead.
All of a sudden the entire game changed as the hosts went all out in search of goals and the Whites, as has been the case on a few occasions this season, simply crumbled.
On 69 minutes Donnelly finished at the far post then on 69 minutes Keke added his second as the floodgates opened.
Institute were still trailing 0-1 and now Larne were within three goals of catching them and this was soon to become only a two goal deficit as Stuart found the back of the net.
The home fans rallied behind their team, Whites fans stood in almost total silence as the drama continued to unfold and when the hosts were awarded a penalty on 81 minutes, which McIlveen duly converted, the roof almost came off Inver Park.
One more goal needed then by Larne with only minutes remaining and the hosts began pouring men further and further forward seeking the one more goal that would send them into the play offs.
However, by pushing men forwards gaps then appeared at the back and Whites youngster Roohi was on hand to exploit those gaps when on 87 minutes he broke the home supporters hearts by beating the offside trap and then curling a truly superb strike past the despairing dive of home ‘keeper Brennan and into the roof of the net...what a time to strike what was possibly the Lisburn Distillery goal of the season.
Larne were crest fallen, their hopes dashed but to their credit they continued to give it a right go and did get a sixth in injury time through Donnelly, but time then ran out as did the Inver men’s hope of a play off spot.
For Distillery the result was cruel, however, it did once again expose a fragility that will need to be improved on next season in the Intermediate Premier League.
Lisburn Distillery: Nelson, Gibson, Begley, Burns, Simpson, McIlhagga, Chapman (Knipe), Halfpenny, Granger (Mertagh), O’Connor, Roohi.
Unused subs: Luke, Larmour, Knipe, Macklin.