'It's all about the players': Carrick boss staying grounded as good form continues
Carrick Rangers 3 Institute 0
The only previous time Carrick Rangers won seven Premiership games they were relegated, so manager Niall Currie is taking nothing for granted.
But this "honest group of players" continues to give him everything and rather than taking 38 games to win their seventh game of the season, as they did in 2011-12, after this almost straightforward victory over Institute they have another 20 games to add to that tally, starting at Glenavon tomorrow night.
"To have 21 points at this stage of the season is surreal," admitted Currie, "but with the help of my backroom staff we are all in this together. But it's all about the players. I can't praise these guys highly enough, they're letting me do what I do best. Without a good honest bunch of players, a manager is nothing."
Carrick scored early through Daniel Kelly, with the last kick of the game from substitute Michael Smith and were dominant in between, though they had only an 82nd-minute penalty, converted by captain Michael Surgenor, as their reward.
Once referee Andrew Davey pointed to the spot for a handball from Dean Curry, he had no choice but to show the Institute skipper a red card and dash any remaining hope for the visitors.
"We didn't perform the way the can, so have to take it on the chin and move on," said Stute manager Sean Currie.
There have now been 23 goals in Rangers' last five games - and while Carrick have scored 14 of them, this was their first clean sheet since October.
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"I praised the back line today. The protection the three centre halves and Daniel Kelly gave to Aaron (Hogg) was superb but, don't forget, he still made a critical save with his feet in the first half (from Aidan McCauley, at 1-0). But marshalled by the skipper, the defence was superb."
Institute still find themselves in the relegation play-off place but with three home games in their next four - against the two teams directly above them, Glenavon and Dungannon, plus basement side Warrenpoint and the return game against Carrick - it is a huge three weeks.
Carrick: Hogg; Ferrin, Surgenor, Rodgers; Chapman, Anderson, Kelly, Faulkner (Cherry, 29mins (Hassin, 72mins)), Thompson; Nixon, Keke (Smith, 64mins). Unused subs: McAuley, Carson, Neale, Magill.
Institute: R Brown, Leppard, Tourish, D Curry; Crown; Tweed, McCauley, McNamee (McIntyre, 84mins), McLaughlin; S Curry (Burke, 66mins), G Brown (McGurk, 74mins). Unused subs: Wells, R Morrow, J Morrow, McLaughlin.
Referee: Andrew Davey
Man of the match: Jerry Thompson
Match rating: 5/10