CARRICK RANGERS 1-1 BALLINAMALLARD UNITED
It was honours even in the relegation six-pointer between Carrick Rangers and Ballinamallard at Solitude.
Veteran striker Miguel Chines put Carrick in the driving seat early on but Mallards striker Stephen O’Flynn levelled matters with a wonderful strike midway through the first half.
It was an open match with both teams going for broke in search of a much-needed win but, in the end, both sides had to settle for a point.
The opening 45 minutes produced some cracking football and the game sparked into life on eight minutes with Carrick stopper Brian Neeson producing a superb point-blank save to deny O’Flynn from close range.
Two minutes later Carrick were in front when Chines netted his thirteenth of the season, tapping in from four yards out after strike partner Adam Salley’s deflected shot came back off the upright.
Whitey Anderson’s men levelled matters on 25 minutes when centre-forward O’Flynn found the top corner with an exquisite 20-yard strike with the outside of left foot, having been teed up by Ivan Sproule.
Shortly after the half-hour United keeper Stefan McCusker got down low to his left to deny Chines from a free-kick on the edge of box.
Carrick had Neeson to thank for keeping the scores level at the interval when he pulled off an acrobatic save, tipping O’Flynn’s rasping shot over the bar after he latched onto Ivan Sproule’s raking diagonal ball from the right.
Carrick were knocking on the door early in the second half. Salley glanced wide of the target when well placed before McCusker got both hands to Daniel Kelly’s header.
Ballinamallard were on the back foot for the majority of the second session with Gary Haveron’s men dominating possession but the visitors were well-drilled in defence.
Mark Surgenor’s speculative shot from the ege of the area was the pick of the late half-chances but his effort dipped wide the post. McCloskey also went close with a header from Ryan Kane’s corner but it was comfortably collected by McCusker.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson - Kane, Doyle, Surgenor, Traynor - McCloskey, Johnston, Cherry (Kelly 22), Harmon (c) - Salley, Chines (Roy 76). Subs not used: Wright, McNeill, Wallace.
Ballinamallard: McCusker - McKenna, Feeney (c), Dykes, Elliott, - Sproule (Currie 86), McCabe, Lecky, McCartney - Mayse (Campbell 70), O’Flynn. Subs not used: Falconer, Beacom, Morris.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).