Carrick Rangers 0-2 Coleraine
Coleraine moved up to third in the Danske Bank Premiership as a deadly double from Curtis Allen helped the Bannsiders record all three points at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.
After a goalless first half, Allen — who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Monday — scored two predatory strikes to make it a good evening for Oran Kearney’s men.
It marked a second successive defeat for Carrick Rangers, who will be disappointed by their attacking display in a game played in wintry conditions.
After the pitch passed an inspection at 4pm, the Bannsiders enjoyed having the wind in their backs in the first half but it was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the game as Lee Chapman’s ambitious effort sailed over the crossbar.
On 21 minutes, Coleraine — who came into the games on a 10-match unbeaten run — threatened as Jamie Glackin’s corner-kick was drifted goalwards by the wind and Carrick keeper Aaron Hogg was forced to claw the ball off the line. That resulted in a goalmouth melee as Stephen O’Donnell and Allen were both denied from close range.
The Amber Army had Hogg to thank seven minutes later as he was alert to grab the ball from Stewart Nixon’s cross as Glackin looked certain to turn the ball home. At the other end, Chapman once again had a strike from distance that failed to test Coleraine goalkeeper Martin Gallagher.
The ball was in the net on 45 minutes as Stephen Lowry’s pass cut through the hosts’ defence and landed at the feet of Lyndon Kane. The full-back squared the ball to Allen, who lashed home, but he was denied by the linesman’s flag.
Oran Kearney’s men made a bright start to the second half and they almost got the breakthrough on 49 minutes as a superb cross from Ronan Wilson found Aaron Jarvis at the back post, but he was thwarted from close range.
After Carrick threatened through Lloyd Anderson, the Bannsiders shuffled their pack as they brought on Matthew Shevlin and it almost paid dividends as he squared the ball to Josh Carson but his daisy cutter was held by Hogg.
However, the deadlock was broken on 58 minutes as Lyndon Kane picked up the ball, drove forward and played a one-two with Allen. Just when it looked like he was going to shoot, he was fouled by Mark Surgenor — but referee Lee Tavinder played the advantage with Allen making no mistake from close range.
Niall Currie was without Cathair Friel, Jonny Frazer and Alexander Gawne and they failed to test Coleraine after the break.
It was put to bed on 76 minutes as the ball fortuitously landed with Allen, who grabbed his 11th career goal against Carrick.
The hosts missed a great chance to force a grandstand finish as a cross found substitute Jordan Gibson inside the box but his header was superbly saved by Gallagher.
CARRICK RANGERS: Hogg, Neale, Surgenor, Loughran (Forsythe 69 ), Chapman, Kelly, Smith (Gibson 58), Anderson, Jenkins, Storey, Ramsey (Rodgers 43).
Subs not used: McKinty, Cherry, Glendinning, Millar.
COLERAINE: Gallagher, Kane, Canning, Jarvis, Lowry, Carson, Wilson, O’Donnell (McConaghie 41), Glackin (Parkhill 82), Allen, Nixon (Shevlin 53).
Subs not used: Douglas, Bradley, Tweed, Brennan.
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)
Man of the match: Curtis Allen
Match rating: 6/10