With just two minutes on the clock,
William Faulkner’s pass found Lloyd Anderson who in turn picked out Stewart
Nixon – the young forward’s strike deflected wide of the mark.
Following an uneventful start to the
game in which the ‘Gers were well organised and disciplined, it was Stephen
Baxter’s men who broke the deadlock. A long-throw into the box courtesy of
Jordan Forsythe met the head of Jordan Owens who found the back of the net.
The Hatchetmen almost doubled their
advantage two minutes later as a Paul Heatley free-kick was headed goalwards by
Colin Coates only to be met by a fine save from Aaron Hogg.
Former Carrick players Heatley then
tried his luck with a fiercely volleyed strike from outside the area but again
Hogg was alert to palm the ball away.
Two minutes before the break,
Crusaders scored their second. A punt up field was flicked on by Owens to find
the on-running Heatley who had beat the offside and lifted the ball over the
head of Hogg to give his side a two-goal advantage at the interval.
Following half-time it was Heatley
again proving to be the home side’s primary attacking outlet as his curled shot
from outside the box drew another good save from Hogg.
On the 55th minute, Niall
Currie made his first change of the afternoon as Mark Kelly made way for
Michael Smith in attack.
Owens really should have had his brace
on the hour mark as he found himself in acres of space in the box, however he somehow
headed well wide of goal from Ross Clarke’s pinpoint delivery.
Rangers’ second substitution of the
afternoon then saw the returning Abby Sanusi take the place of Lloyd Anderson
Sanusi’s impact was almost instant as
minutes after coming on he played a good ball to Smith who unselfishly squared
the ball to Nixon however his shot was hooked off the line by the covering
Billy Joe Burns.
The hosts when in search of more goals
as Jarlath O’Rourke’s corner was firstly fired over the bar by Forsythe before
another Owens header was denied by a remarkable save from Hogg who pushed the
ball onto the crossbar.
Finally, on the 90th
minute, substitute Clarke’s perfectly curled shot from the edge of the area beat
Hogg and found the corner of the net to wrap up the three points for the hosts.
Carrick Rangers: Hogg; Ferrin,
Surgenor, Loughran; Chapman, D. Kelly, Anderson (Sanusi, 66), Neale; Faulkner;
M. Kelly (Smith, 55), Nixon.
Unused substitutes: Carson, Houston,
Magill, McDermott, Gray.