Belfast Telegraph

Arthur's winner keeps Amber Army on top and Donegal Celtic in drop zone

By Keith Bailie

Carrick Rangers boss Glenn Taggart says his team did not allow Donegal Celtic's suspension from football to distract them in the build-up to Saturday's game at Celtic Park.

In the end, DC's suspension was lifted and Carrick won 1-0 thanks to a second half strike from Ryan Arthur, but at one stage it looked as if the game might not even be played.

The Belfast Telegraph Championship One clash looked set to be postponed when the Irish FA suspended Celtic from football earlier this week. If the suspension had remained in place, DC would have been unable to fulfil the fixture and it's likely that Carrick would have been awarded a 3-0 win by the Northern Ireland Football League.

However, a crisis was averted when Celtic paid the disciplinary fine on Wednesday.

Although Taggart and his players were aware of the situation, they continued with their normal pre-match preparation.

The player-manager explained: "After beating Armagh on Tuesday night, we came in for ice baths on Wednesday and everyone was talking about the fact that Saturday's match might be postponed. We were unsure whether we would be awarded three points or whether the game would just be postponed, or whether the game would just go ahead as planned.

"We had a chat about it and just decided to prepare for the game as normal, as you never know what's going to happen.

"I was glad the game went ahead because if we were given a 3-0 win, I'm sure there would have been appeals which could have held the whole thing back. Apart from anything else, we want to earn promotion on the field. We didn't want to be gifted anything."

Saturday's win over DC was far from a gift. With both Ards and Bangor winning at half-time, Carrick knew at the break that they needed to find a way past a stubborn Celtic side.

The breakthrough came in the 54th minute when defender Ryan Arthur headed home after a goalmouth scramble. It wasn't pretty, but it was enough to keep Carrick top of the table.

Reflecting on the game, Taggart said: "Donegal Celtic are a much better team than their league position suggests. They're well organised with a talented striker in Joe Todd up top. They certainly didn't make life easy for us and I was delighted when we came away with a 1-0 win, because there wasn't much in it."

Carrick are now one point clear of Ards and two points clear of Bangor. If they can beat the PSNI on Tuesday night and the Seasiders fail to beat Harland & Wolff Welders, Rangers will be crowned champions. Otherwise, the title race will go to the last day of the season.

At the other end of the table, DC now find themselves one point behind PSNI. Donegal Celtic will be demoted to Championship Two if the PSNI win either of their two remaining games. 

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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