The Bluefin Sport Championship side carved the first opening after just three minutes as Stewart Nixon broke forward and delivered a powerful shot which was palmed away by ex-Gers ‘keeper Brian Neeson.
Nixon would go close soon after as Lloyd Anderson’s pass found the forward, however Neeson was quick off his line to again deny him.
On the 13th minute, Barry Gray’s side broke the deadlock. Against the run of the play, the Reds won a free-kick outside the area which full-back Levi Ives dispatched accurately, giving visiting ‘keeper Liam McAuley no chance.
The East Antrim outfit stayed on the front foot, however, as Daniel Kelly first headed wide from Lee Chapman’s delivery before Reece Neale’s well struck free-kick was collected by Neeson.
Anderson then broke into the box and drilled a low shot wide before Nixon should have done better when one-on-one with Neeson, with the ‘keeper again coming out on top.
One-way traffic continued as Kelly had two great chances in succession; first seeing his header from a Neale corner draw a superb diving save from Neeson, before flicking another headed effort just over the crossbar.
Yet, on the stroke of half time, the North Belfast side doubled their advantage. Referee Steven Gregg deemed that Ryan Curran had been fouled by Chris Rodgers inside the area and awarded a penalty; a decision which produced uproar from Rangers’ fans and players alike and resulting in bookings for Mark Surgenor and Paul McDowell.
However, it was Gormley who remained cool to step up to the mark and send McAuley the wrong way, confidently dispatching his penalty into the bottom corner.
Niall Currie’s side nearly hit back immediately as Nixon’s square pass found McDowell with the goal at his mercy, but he scuffed his effort in the final action of the first half.
Undeterred, Carrick continued their attacking style of football in the second period as Nixon’s long throw-in was nodded on by Rodgers and then touched just wide by McDowell.
McDowell then laid the ball off for Ashton McDermott on the edge of the area; his shot going over the bar.
The battle between Nixon and Neeson continued as the creative forward had a number of attempts at goal, but he was unable to find a way past the agile shotstopper.
With twenty minutes remaining, Sean Green replaced Paul McDowell as the away side looked to freshen their attacking options.
On the 77th minute, Rangers finally got the goal that their play deserved. Chapman’s cross from the right was met at the front post by Kelly whose header was too powerful to be kept out, giving hope to the ‘Gers of a late reprisal.
And with three minutes remaining, the Taylors Avenue side found the equaliser. The home defence failed to clear Nixon’s delivery from the left, allowing Anderson to opportunistically drill a low shot past the despairing dive of Neeson.
However, less than a minute later the North Belfast side re-gained their lead. A defensive error on the part of Rodgers allowed Gormley to nip in and lob the stranded McAuley with a great finish that ensured the hosts progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Bet McLean League Cup.
While it proved to be a harsh result for the ‘Gers, the performance, attitude and endeavour shown against a top Danske Bank Premiership side is to be commended, as the players left the pitch to a standing ovation from both sets of fans.
Carrick Rangers: McAuley; Rodgers, Surgenor, Loughran; Chapman, McDermott, Kelly, Neale; Anderson; McDowell (Green, 69), Nixon
Unused substitutes: Brennan, Murray, Houston, McMillen, Warwick, McCauley.