Ballymena United 1-2 Carrick Rangers
By Paul Alexander
Carrick Rangers recorded a rare victory against Ballymena United on Saturday afternoon in the Danske Bank Premiership as they defeated their hosts for the first time since August 2011.
The visitors were in front through Daniel Kelly within a minute of the opening whistle. Initially, James Ferrin headed towards goal after Jerry Thompson’s left wing cross. Ferrin’s attempt was saved by Ballymena goalkeeper Ross Glendinning before Kelly bundled in the rebound.
United levelled the scoreline after a corner-kick in the 12th minute. Steven McCullough delivered the set-piece from the right and Aaron Burns nodded in at the far post.
Carrick went ahead for a second time on 23 minutes. Daniel Kelly forwarded Stewart Nixon’s throw-in to Lee Chapman who finished at the back post. Niall Currie’s side almost added a third goal seconds later. Nixon produced a left-footed cross from the right although Kelly’s thumping header went wide of the home goal.
At the other end of the pitch, the Sky Blues nearly found their second equaliser of the afternoon. Ross Lavery’s ball from the left was met by Andrew McGrory who was unfortunate to see his attempt come back off the underside of the Carrick crossbar.
Guillaume Keke tried to give the away side a two-goal advantage seven minutes before half-time. Kelly supplied the striker with a superb long ball but his low shot which followed was collected by Glendinning.
There were chances for both sides in the opening stages of the second half. The Braidmen had the first opportunity when midfielder Josh Kelly had a shot blocked by visiting keeper Aaron Hogg on 49 minutes. Ross Glendinning then needed both hands to deal with Thompson’s strong effort from outside the 18-yard box.
Ballymena tried to push for another equalising goal inside the final 20 minutes of the match. On 72 minutes Lavery’s cross from the left reached Kenny Kane in the Carrick penalty area but the forward couldn’t make the desired connection.
Substitute Shane McGinty produced a low shot across goal which went wide of the left post in the 75th minute. United centre-back Andrew Burns then headed wide of the same post with 13 minutes of the game to go.
Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, McCullough, Addis, Ervin, Andrew Burns (Brown, 86), Aaron Burns, J. Kelly, Winchester (McGinty, 73), Lavery (Mayse, 73), K. Kane, McGrory
Subs not used: Williamson, Balmer, Reece Glendinning, Warnock
Carrick Rangers: Hogg, Thompson, Rodgers, Surgenor, D. Kelly, Chapman, Faulkner, Cherry (Anderson, 67), Ferrin, Keke (Smith, 58), Nixon (Sachem, 84)
Subs not used: McAuley, Neale, Loughran, Hassin
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Daniel Kelly (Carrick)