PREVIEW: Ards vs Carrick Rangers
Carrick Rangers will go in search of their first win of 2017 tomorrow afternoon, visiting the Bangor Fuels Arena to take on Ards.

With the January transfer window now closed, it can be finalised that Aaron Callaghan has in total added 10 new players to his panel. While most have featured during the last month, Southerners Declan O’Brien and Stephen Quigley may make their debuts tomorrow afternoon. The pair who are former Drogheda teammates will add heap loads of experience to the ‘Gers dressing room, and are both eligible for selection.


In the first transfer window following Niall Currie’s departure, Ards fans have had to adjust to a significantly reduced number of deals, however they have plenty to be excited about through the signings of Josh Doherty and Rory Carson. Former Leyton Orient player Doherty may make his first appearance after receiving clearance, while Carson returns to the Red and Blues.


At the moment, the North Down side sit a comfortable 12 points clear off their East Antrim counterparts, so Aaron Callaghan will be determined to drag his side closer to tomorrow’s opponents with what would be a first win over Colin Nixon’s men this season.


Last Saturday, a spirited performance from Rangers was crushed in the dying minutes as they lost 3-1 to Ballymena United. Cathair Friel netted early on for the Braidmen, but Carrick replied through Paddy McNally’s second half header. After periods of tactical defending and counter-attacking, it looked as if the Taylors Avenue outfit would hang on for a point, but goals at the death from Friel and Jonathan McMurray snatched a point cruelly away from the away side.


It was a very similar case for Ards, falling to a 3-1 defeat away to Coleraine. Ian Parkhill and Jamie McGonigle’s goals had the Bannsiders in control only 11 minutes in, but a penalty from Michael Ruddy halved the lead. It wasn’t to be for Ards however, as James McLaughlin’s strike five minutes from time secured the win for Oran Kearney’s men.


It’s one-in-one-out in terms of suspensions, as Aaron Smyth is eligible after missing a game for a straight red card, but Steven McCullough will sit-out after picking up five yellow cards.


As for the hosts, Craig McMillan continues to serve a head-butting suspension, and striker Gary Liggett is side-lined through injury.


Two talented players may face their from sides tomorrow in Kyle Cherry and Eamon McAllister. Cherry left the ‘Gers for Ards in the summer, and his performances have been rewarded through a new contract with his current employers. McAllister arrived to the Loughshore Hotel Arena in January, and a number of impressive displays have saw him rightly earn a starting position, but will either player come back to haunt his former employer?


In the last meeting between these sides, a 1-1 draw was festively played out on Boxing Day. Daniel Kelly’s strike opened the scoring in the first half, but Emmet Friars nodded in a corner after the interval to ensure a share of the spoils.


In a week’s time, Rangers will be preparing to lock horn with Linfield at home, and all fans must note that this is an ALL TICKET GAME! You cannot pay at the gate, and those without a ticket will be refused entry. Tickets can be purchased from the Swift, Jeanius in the DeCourcy centre, or East Antrim Motor Factors.


Tickets for both the bus to the League Cup Final and for the Final itself are currently on sale. Details of when the Dugout will be opened to purchase these tickets will be made available throughout the coming week, so make sure to keep up-to date with our website, Facebook, and Twitter.


If you want to travel to today’s game, look no further than the Spirit of ’76 supporters club bus! Prices for return travel are £6 for non-members and £5 for members, and the bus will leave from the Loughshore Hotel Arena at 2:00PM. Everyone is welcome!


Kick-off is at 3:00pm tomorrow afternoon, and the players need YOUR support, so please get out and support the lads! Come on you ‘Gers!

updated: 03 February 2017

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 Crusaders 38 28 7 3 106 3891
 Coleraine 38 26 11 1 76 3189
 Glenavon 38 19 12 7 85 5269
 Linfield 38 20 7 11 72 4667
 Cliftonville 38 20 5 13 68 4565
 Glentoran 38 14 9 15 52 5251
 Ballymena United 38 14 6 18 53 6548
 Dungannon Swifts 38 13 6 19 42 6245
 Ards 38 12 4 22 42 7440
 Warrenpoint Town 38 8 6 24 52 8630
 Carrick Rangers 38 6 5 27 31 7823
 Ballinamallard United 38 5 8 25 39 8923