Belfast Telegraph

Carrick Rangers promoted to the Premiership after defeating Ards in play-off

Carrick celebrate winning promotion after this evening's game at the Bangor Fuels Arena (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)
Carrick celebrate winning promotion after this evening's game at the Bangor Fuels Arena (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)
Ards' Michael Kerr and Carrick's Ryan Strain pictured in action during last Friday's first leg (Arthur Allison/Pacemaker)
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Carrick Rangers were promoted to the Danske Bank Premiership after they defeated Ards 3-1 on aggregate in the promotion/relegation play-off last night.

Having led 1-0 from the first leg, Carrick scored twice in the first half to open up a three-goal lead, which Ards never recovered from despite pulling one back just before the break.

The visitors got off to the perfect start after just six minutes when Stewart Nixon's corner was nodded in at the back post by Mark Surgenor to double their aggregate lead.

Gareth Tommons thought he had levelled it on the night for Ards a few minutes later when he finished off a free-kick move, only for the linesman to rule it out for offside.

That allowed Carrick to extend their lead on the half-hour mark and again it came from a Nixon set-piece, this time nodded on by Chris Rodgers and given a telling flick on by Ryan Strain into the bottom corner.

Indeed, Strain should have made it three on the night only moments after when Lee Chapman put a cross right onto his head unmarked in the box, only for the forward to miss the target.

It was a costly miss too, home boss Warren Feeney throwing on Kyle Cherry and he immediately made an impact, whipping in a free-kick for Johnny Taylor to glance in with eight minutes to the break.

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They got a further boost just two minutes into the second half when the visitors were reduced to ten men, centre-back Chris Rodgers sent off for a second yellow card after hauling down David McAllister.

But despite having the extra man, the hosts never made the most of it, constantly frustrated by Carrick putting all 10 men behind the ball and defending for their lives.

The closest they came was when Darren Henderson was found completely unmarked on the penalty spot by a Mark Kelly cross, but his header was straight at Andrew Hogg.

That was the death knell. Carrick go up, Ards are down.

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