CARRICK’S 134-day wait for a league win came to an end on Saturday with a 3-2 success over Coagh United.
A Nathan McConnell double and a goal from exciting winger Correy Davidson made sure of all three points. But Carrick had to show their mettle in defence with the back four working hard to keep United at bay.
Before this one, Michael Hughes’ side’s last Championship 1 victory came with the 6-0 hammering of Dergview at Dixon Park in late September.
How times have changed. One draw, four league defeats and four cup exits later, it was a new-look Rangers team - thanks largely to the January transfer window aquisitions - which lined up at Hagan Park. In fact, only three players who started in the Dergview rout began the game against Coagh - Conor McCloskey, Correy Davidson and Jonny Addis.
McConnell, who recently returned to the club after spells with Ards and The Welders, got the ball rolling inside 30 seconds. The big striker got off to a dream start when he netted from Davidson’s inch-perfect cross after the Dubliner had blazed his way down the left flank.
Coagh must have been rattled but they hit back in the fifth minute when Jason Gillespie’s shot forced keeper Simon Steele into making a smart save. There was another scare from the resulting corner as Marcus Dallas smashed his effort against the upright.
Rangers doubled their advantage with a a quarter of an hour on the clock when good work from Gary Haveron allowed Sean Friars to release Davidson and his pinpoint shot nestled in the bottom-left corner.
McConnell then flashed an effort wide after ex-Institute man Neil Harkin played a smart pass down the left side. Davidson could have added to his personal tally, but instead squandered a good opportunity after a quick free-kick.
Hughes’ men paid for those missed chances when Gillespie left them stumped, pulling one back with a 27th-minute tap-in after Steele had parried.
Addis produced a fantastic last-ditch slide tackle to deny Scott McCordick, but seconds later the Coagh man hit the post.
After the break Carrick made it 3-1 when McCloskey’s cross found the unmarked McConnell who did the rest with a routine header.
Defensively, Carrick showed great resolve and left-back Lee Colligan and Anto Lagan, deployed in central defence, both made superb blocks thwart United.
Carrick’s resistance cracked in the 89th minute when McConnell lost possession and the defence failed to deal with a routine ball. McCordick duly pounced to slot home.
It should have set up a tense finish, but it was too little too late as far as the home side was concerned and Carrick held on to jump to 10th spot in the table.
Carrick Rangers: Steele, McCloskey, Colligan, Haveron, Lagan, Addis, Carlyle, Harkin, McConnell, Friars, Davidson.
Result: Coagh United 2 (Gillespie 27’, McCordick 89’) v Carrick Rangers 3 (McConnell 1’, 53’, Davidson 14’).
Referee: Paddy McFadden. Assistants: Chris Park, Michael Patterson.