Carrick Rangers recorded a deserved 2-0 victory over a clueless Ballymena United last night.
Roy Walker's Sky Blues were unable to break down a hard working Rangers, with Anto Lagan and David McAlinden lapping up United's hopeful long balls.
Former Ballymena defender McAlinden came back to haunt his old club when he opened the scoring with a thunderous 30 yard free-kick in the 35th minute.
McAlinden's effort took a deflection off the wall that took the ball past Dwayne Nelson, but the Carrick captain deserved his slice of luck.
Ballymena weren't without chances in the first half — Jordan Baker, Gary McCutcheon and Eammon Murray all failed to find the target with opportunities.
Ballymena started the second half brightly and their best chance of the game came in the 50th minute when Ally Teggart crossed for Baker whose header beat Chris Keenan but the alert Grant Hutchinson headed the ball off the line.
The impressive Paul Heatley secured the points for Carrick in the 77th minute.
Paul Owens robbed Aaron Stewart on the touchline and put a dangerous ball into the box that United failed to clear.
Heatley collected the loose ball and smashed it past Nelson.
Ballymena were unable mount any sort of comeback and were left to lick their wounds.
Carrick Rangers' confident counter attacking football won the points and confirmed that they are a genuine Premiership side who deserve their crack at the top flight.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Rodgers, Black, Stewart, Munster, Taggart, Jenkins, Murray (Costello), Teggart, McCutcheon, Baker.
Carrick Rangers: Keenan, Murray, Hogan (Hutchinson), Lagan, McAlinden, Harman, Deans, Smith, Heatley, Owens, O'Neill.
Referee: Mark Courtney (Dungannon).