Belfast Telegraph

Loughran gives Carrick a boost in their fight for second spot

Bluefin Sport Championship

By Stuart McKinley

Carrick Rangers took full advantage of Portadown's trip to Dundela falling foul of the weather by opening up a seven-point lead in the fight for second place in the Bluefin Sport Championship.

Caolan Loughran continued his rich vein of form in front of goal to give Carrick a 1-0 derby victory over Larne, who made a raft of changes after clinching the title and promotion a week ago.

In a pulsating clash that should have yielded much more than just a single goal, Loughran stepped up to score from the penalty spot just a minute before half-time after Michael Smith had been fouled by Tomas Cosgrove.

With second place meaning home advantage in the play-off against the third-place finishers, the Ports must win their game in hand as well as hope for a favour before they travel to Carrick in the final game of the season if they are to avoid going back to the same venue for a Premiership shoot-out a few days later.

Ballinamallard United, meanwhile, kept their own slim hopes of a play-off berth alive when they inflicted a fifth successive defeat on Harland & Wolff Welders with a 3-0 victory at Ferney Park.

In their last league game before the Irish Cup semi-final against Warrenpoint Town, the Mallards had the three points wrapped up before the half-time break.

Ryan Campbell put them ahead midway through the opening period and they were two up just after the half-hour mark when John Edgar got his name on the scoresheet.

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Duwayne McManus scored straight from a corner on 36 minutes and it was plain sailing from there on in for Harry McConkey's side.

In the only other game that survived the elements, Knockbreda put a five-point gap between themselves and PSNI with a 5-2 victory over the Police at Breda Park.

Ciaran Dobbin scored twice for Knockbreda, followed by strikes from Darius Roohi, Karl Hamill and David Fearon, while Mark Anderson netted a brace in reply.

Ballyclare Comrades' home game against Loughgall and Limavady United's trip to Dergview were also postponed because of waterlogged pitches.

Those two games have been quickly rearranged for next Saturday, while Portadown will now go to Dundela's Wilgar Park on March 30.

Results: Ballinamallard United 3 H&W Welders 0; Carrick Rangers 1 Larne 0; Knockbreda 5 PSNI 2.

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