Peter Wilson reports from Loughshore Hotel Arena
A SECOND East Antrim derby in three days produced a deserved 2-0 win for Carrick Rangers at the Loughshore Hotel Arena. Goals from Stewart Nixon and Daniel Kelly alongside a saved David McDaid penalty and the dismissal of Fuad Sule and manager Tiernan Lynch all added to the drama on the day.
The result means Larne remain top of the Championship but with a reduced lead of 13 points as they head into the final pre-split game at home to Loughgall in three weeks’ time.
An early good ball from David Scullion went to Ben Tilney but the Englishman’s touch meant he was unable to trouble Aaron Hogg. On 10 minutes, Tilney tried again, this time finding space in the box however his effort was comfortably saved by Hogg once more.
Carrick also tried their luck just after a quarter of an hour; Caolan Loughran’s free kick being tipped over by Conor Devlin.
The opening goal came on 20 when Stewart Nixon scrambled Reece Neale’s inviting corner across the goal-line.
The Invermen came close early in the second half; Tomas Cosgrove passing to Marty Donnelly, the number 11 guiding his shot over the bar.
Shortly after the hour mark, David McDaid was fouled inside the area and stepped up to take a Larne penalty, but the Rangers keeper went the right way to keep it out.
Daniel Kelly made it two six minutes later, getting on the end of a corner to nod home.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Fuad Sule was given his marching orders by referee Declan Hassan after a second yellow card, not long after Tiernan Lynch was also sent to the stands.
Carrick Rangers: Hogg, McCauley, Neale, Surgenor, Rodgers (Cage 84), Loughran, McMillen (McAlister 90 +1), Anderson, Kelly, Nixon (Smiley 89), Smith
Unused subs: Malcolmson, Mitchell
Larne: Devlin, Sule, Ramsey, McEleney, Kelly, Scullion (McNally 66), McDaid, Donnelly (Gilmour 79), Tilney (Stuart 79), Cosgrove, Hughes
Unused subs: Dougherty, Hassin
Referee: Declan Hassan
What’s up next
The Inver Men get a break from league action as they welcome Premiership side Newry City on Saturday 5 January, in their Irish Cup Fifth Round clash. Kick-off at Inver Park is 3pm.