Albert Watson was the only change from the team that claimed a 2-0 victory at Coleraine six days prior; he took the place of the injured Cameron Stewart while new signing James Teelan made the bench alongside Joe Crowe who returned from suspension.
It was the Reds who started the brighter of the two teams as ex-Carrick player Jonny Addis first drove a shot past the far post from the edge of the box before Rory Hale was denied by Ross Glendinning when in on goal; the Carrick ‘keeper saving his shot with his foot.
At the other end, Danny Gibson cut in from the left and got a strike on target that was punched away by visiting goalkeeper David Odumosu.
On the stroke of half time, a Cliftonville corner-kick fell for Luke Turner only a matter of yards from goal but his effort was blocked by Reece Glendinning.
After the break, Andy Mitchell’s cross into the box was sent looping up into the air off the head of Sean Stewart and when Odumosu came to collect he missed the ball completely, but Steven Gordon was not able to get to it ahead of Ronan Doherty for what would have been a tap in.
A great chance then fell the way of Ronan Hale as Chris Curran’s low cross from the right found the striker eight yards from goal in the middle of the box, but his shot was superbly blocked by Albert Watson before Shea Kearney’s follow up attempt hit the outside of the near post.
Opportunities kept coming for both sides; Gibson held the ball up well before seeing a powerful shot spilled by Odumosu while at the other end, Glendinning made an important block from Joe Gormley’s shot ahead of clearing the danger.
Minutes later, Ronan Hale sent a free-kick narrowly wide of the mark from a central position just over twenty yards out.
As the contest entered its dying moments and it looked as though the ‘Gers were going to pick up a point for their efforts, the Reds found the winning goal in the final minute of injury time.
Stewart’s free-kick towards the back post was met by the run of Casey who headed in from six yards out to spark jubilant celebrations in the away end, leaving Carrick with no time to go in search of a response as they suffered defeat in cruel fashion.
Carrick Rangers: Ross Glendinning; Lewis MacKinnon, Albert Watson, Reece Glendinning; Kurtis Forsythe, Andy Mitchell (Joe Crowe, 71’), Steven Gordon, Ben Buchanan-Rolleston; Nedas Maciulaitis (Kyle Cherry, 83’), David Cushley (James Teelan, 68’); Danny Gibson (Curtis Allen, 83’).
Unused substitutes: Ben McCauley, Mark Surgenor, Emmett McGuckin.
Bookings: Albert Watson (80’)
Cliftonville: David Odumosu; Odhrán Casey, Jonny Addis, Luke Turner; Shea Kearney, Chris Curran (Shea Gordon, 71’), Ronan Doherty, Sean Stewart; Rory Hale; Joe Gormley (Ryan Corrigan, 85’), Ronan Hale.
Unused substitutes: Nathan Gartside, Conor Pepper, Luke Kenny, Stephen McGuinness, Ben Wylie.
Bookings: Rory Hale (58’)
Referee: Tony Clarke