Belfast Telegraph

Sorry Carrick are on the end of a Ballymena backlash

Carrick Rangers 1-4Ballymena Utd

By Kris Jack

Ballymena United bounced back from their late defeat to Ards last weekend to thump Carrick Rangers 4-1 at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

It took just three minutes for the Sky Blues to take the lead. With Carrick conceding a needless corner, Tony Kane's first delivery was put behind easily, but his second was far more accurate as Caolan Loughran headed down for Allan Jenkins to smash home from eight yards.

And it was from the left boot of Kane once more that the Braidmen doubled their lead on 22 minutes. His free-kick from the left wing was glanced home by Cathair Friel as David Jeffrey's men took control.

However, Carrick were given a route back on the half-hour when referee Raymond Crangle awarded an indirect free-kick in the box after Alan Blayney picked up a stray ball from a slide tackle.

Gareth McKeown's effort from 12 yards was blocked, but Nathan Hanley was on hand to scuff the ball in.

Seven minutes later, Ballymena were again two to the good as Johnny McMurray blasted into the top corner from 30 yards.

Conor McCloskey could have made it 4-1 against his former side just after the interval but he opted to pass and it was cut out. However, he made no mistake just after the hour, driving into the box to fire home.

Friel almost made it a five-star showing in the 88th minute, dispossessing Steven McCullough in his own box, but his shot was well tipped over.

Carrick: Steele, McKeown, McNally, Surgenor, McCullough, McNicholl (Foster 55), McCaul, Clarke (Morrow 66), Hanley (Lavery 55), Murray, Salley. Subs not used: Kelly, English.

Ballymena Utd: Blayney, Ervin, Friel, Loughran, Wallace, Kane (Thompson 64), Owens, Jenkins, McCloskey, Millar (Faulkner 75), McMurray (Shevlin 86).Subs not used: Glendinning, McCaffrey.

Ref: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

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