no more than six minutes on the clock, the ‘Gers opened the scoring. Reece
Neale floated a corner-kick from the right towards the front post to meet the
run of the unmarked Mark Surgenor, who having only signed a contract extension
days before, directed his header past Brian Neeson to give the away side the
‘Gers drew momentum from their early opener as a fine pass from Mark Carson
found the run of Stewart Nixon; he drilled a low cross to the back post where
he found Daniel Kelly however his shot was resiliently blocked by William
the other end, the tricky David McAllister engineered a yard of space on the
edge of the area but could only direct his shot into the gloves of ‘keeper
lively Neale very nearly provided another assist as his lofted cross into the
box found the incoming Carson; his left-footed shot went just past the upright.
player Craig McMillan then went close to scoring against his former side, only
to see his low effort from just inside the area be gathered by Harry Doherty in
the final action of the first half.
the second half, Niall Currie’s men continued to attack down the flanks as
Carson’s cross deep to the back post was headed back across goal by Guillaume
Keke, however Nixon’s stooping header went just wide of the mark.
57 minutes, the East Antrim outfit doubled their lead. Again from a corner-kick,
this time a Kyle Cherry delivery from the left picked out Kelly at the back
post who rose highest to power his header in.
only five minutes later, Ards pulled a goal back. David McAllister had time on
the left flank to produce a great delivery into the middle where Michael
McLellan made no mistake to head the ball past the helpless Doherty.
after, John Bailie’s men came close to drawing level as Scott McMillan’s
delivery from the right was met by the head of Armstrong, however Doherty displayed
excellent reflexes to deny his effort.
the game entered its final twenty minutes, Liam Hassin replaced Kyle Cherry to
add fresh legs to the Carrick midfield.
moments later, the visitors re-gained their two-goal cushion. Stewart Nixon’s
long throw-in was touched on by Keke for Lloyd Anderson to blaze in from close
Josh McGreevy then entered the game, looking to add speed and trickery as he
took the place of Stewart Nixon.
ball through the heart of the Rangers defence then picked out midfielder TJ
Murray on his own; he put the ball past Doherty only to see it strike the post before
the final Carrick game, Michael Smith then replaced Guillaume Keke with just under
ten minutes remaining.
final two opportunities of the afternoon saw McGreevy send a shot wide from
just outside the area before McLellan headed shy of the upright from a
free-kick at the other end.
Dunlop’s full-time signalled confirmed Rangers’ advancement in the competition,
where they will host Irish Cup holders Crusaders on 1st February.
Rangers: Doherty; D. Kelly, Surgenor, Loughran; Carson, Faulkner, Cherry (Hassin,
69), Neale; Anderson; Nixon (McGreevy, 74), Keke (Smith, 81).
substitutes: McAuley, Magill, Doyle, E Kelly.