Carrick Rangers 1-1 Ballymena United
A brave battling display from Carrick Rangers on Tuesday evening earned the Taylors Avenue side their first point of the season in a 1-1 draw with Ballymena United.

David McAlinden’s men were the first to threaten through captain Mark Surgenor; the midfielder’s powerful strike being tipped over the bar by Ross Glendenning after one minute.

 

Moments later wing-back Mark Edgar tried his luck with a free-kick from distance, but he bended his effort wide of the mark.

 

Former ‘Gers player Conor McCloskey then picked out striker Kevin Braniff with a cross, however the former Glenavon frontman could only stab wide.

 

Ben Roy looked to make an impact soon after as he sent an audacious strike just over the bar with Glendenning beaten in the Ballymena goal.

 

Both sides battled hard for the remainder of the first half, with the biggest chance falling for Braniff who smashed his free-kick off the post, leaving it level at half time.

 

Six minutes into the second half, David Jeffrey’s men took the lead. Tony Kane’s free-kick from wide left was flicked into his own net by the unfortunate Denver Gage.

 

United looked for an immediate second as Joe McKinney firstly skied a shot from 20 yards before Braniff’s effort from Kane’s pull-back was sent wide.

 

On the hour mark the ‘Gers then found an equaliser. Mark Clarke’s super through ball picked out Andrew Mooney who evaded the Braidmen’s defence to coolly send the ball past Glendenning.

 

Minutes later Chris Trussell came on in the place of Mikel Suarez to make his Rangers debut.

 

Goalkeeper Harry Doherty then had to be alert to make a fantastic save, tipping Kane’s goal bound free-kick over the bar.

 

With 20 minutes remaining, the ‘Gers were awarded a penalty. Surgenor was fouled by ex-Rangers man Steven McCullough in the area, giving referee Lee Tavinder no option but to point to the spot. Roy stepped up to the mark but failed to hit the target, sending the ball wide from 12 yards.

 

That was to be Roy’s last involvement in the game, as he was replaced by Martin Maybin soon after.

 

Edgar then delivered another teasing set-piece to the back post where Gage rose highest to connect with his head, however he steered his effort just wide of the near post.

 

As the Warden Street outfit piled on the pressure in the closing stages of the game, Gavin Taggart replaced Lee Chapman to freshen up the legs in the middle of the park.

 

Rangers’ stayed strong in defence in the final minutes, ensuring a hard-earned point was sealed at the Loughshore Hotel Arena.

 

Domino’s Pizza Man of the Match as chosen by the Spirit of ’76 Supporters Club was awarded to goal scorer Andrew Mooney.

 

Carrick Rangers: Doherty; Chapman (Taggart, 80), McMullan, McNally, Gage, Edgar; Surgenor, Clarke, Roy (Maybin, 68); Mooney, Suarez (Trussell, 63).

 

Unused substitutes: Morrow, Malone.

updated: 16 August 2017
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LEAGUE TABLE

 TeamPldWDLFAPts
 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