WARRENPOINT TOWN 1 CARRICK RANGERS 1
Warrenpoint somehow managed to scrape a draw at home to Carrick Rangers with Stephen Murray’s 81st minute penalty earning them a share of the spoils after both sides had seen a man sent off in the second period.
Murray’s spot kick cancelled out Adam Salley’s opener for the away side who look destined for a massive three points until Warrenpoint struck.
The visitors made all the running in the opening 45 minutes and will wonder how they didn’t go in at the break in front given they had a number of chances in the first half.
On seven minutes, a Kyle Cherry free kick from the left wasn’t claimed by Warrenpoint keeper Jonny Parr and Aaron Traynor headed it back across goal but no Carrick player was there to finish it to the net.
In what was a first period pretty much bereft of much quality, it took until the 27th minute for the next opportunity to arise. Miguel Chines found himself inside the Warrenpoint penalty area on the left and, despite holding off Dermot McVeigh, the striker’s shot was weak and easily gathered by Parr.
The away side’s best chance up until that stage arrived five minutes later when a ball across the six-yard box by on loan Linfield striker Adam Salley flew just out of the reach of Chines who surely would have scored had he got anything on it.
With the Carrick defence completely at ease, it was all one-way traffic as the half drew to a close and there was still plenty of time for Gary Haveron’s men to spurn two more gilt-edged opportunities before the break.
On 39 minutes, Salley turned inside Jordan Dane in the Town box and his low shot almost beat Parr at the left hand post before the loose ball was hacked to safety by Mark Hughes, Then in stoppage time, Chines found himself in acres of space on the left and though he dragged his shot across goal, Salley got something on it but not enough to direct it towards goal as the tie remained goalless at half-time.
It was much of the same early in the second period as Carrick failed to take yet another chance to break the deadlock. Three minutes into the half and this time it was a cross from the left and Chines as left unmarked in the box but could only direct his header over the bar when he should have scored.
It went from bad to worse in terms of finishing for the visitors with an awful miss from Ben Roy on 54. Salley easily beat Mark Hughes down the right and slid an inch-perfect low ball to Roy who somehow managed to spoon the ball away from goal when it looked easier to score from just two yards out.
The tie then sprang to life two minutes later when Warrenpoint almost took the lead against the run of play. Martin Murray’s free from the left was only cleared out as far as Conor McDonald and the midfielder crashed a superb volley off the crossbar from 20 yards with Brian Neeson at full stretch.
Warrenpoint were then dealt a massive blow a minute later when Mark Clarke, who had been booked just a couple of minutes earlier, needlessly fouled Andrew Doyle and received his marching orders from Referee Keith Kennedy.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts a minute later as Carrick took a deserved lead. A low ball in from the right by Aaron Smyth wasn’t dealt with and Salley slid in to slot into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0.
It was made ten men apiece on 73 minutes when Aaron Smyth was, somewhat harshly, shown a second yellow card for a foul on Warrenpoint sub Tiernan Mulvenna right in front of the two managers.However, Carrick could have put the result beyond doubt 12 minutes from time when Salley did superbly to cut in from the right but when the ball fell to Joe McNeill, the substitute, with his first touch, volleyed wildly high and wide from eight yards.
Warrenpoint were then thrown a massive lifeline in their battle for survival on 81 minutes when Conor McDonald was taken down in the box by Conor McCloskey. It was stonewall penalty and Stephen Murray sent Neeson the wrong way from the spot to set up a tantalising last few minutes.
Warrenpoint Town: Parr, M Hughes (S Hughes 64), McVeigh, Dane, Moan, McDonald, Clarke, Bagnall, M Murray (Mulvenna 70), McMurray, S Murray
Subs not used: Murphy, Smith, Donnelly
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, Traynor, Harmon, Cherry, Chines (McNeill 77), Roy (McCloskey 72), Johnston, Doyle (Kelly 59), Salley, Taggart
Subs not used: Wright, McCaul
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)