JBE LEAGUE CUP: Neeson the hero as Carrick Rangers defeat Lurgan Celtic on penalties

Carrick keeper Brian Neeson
Carrick keeper Brian Neeson

Goalkeeper Brian Neeson was 10-man Carrick’s hero as he blasted home the sudden-death penalty to see off the spirited challenge of Lurgan Celtic at Taylor’s Avenue.

Rangers won 5-4 on spot-kicks which were needed after Gary Browne’s strike cancelled out Aaron Haire’s penalty in extra-time.

Carrick's Gary Browne equalised in extra-time.

Carrick's Gary Browne equalised in extra-time.

Lurgan had an opportunity to rock Carrick as early as nine minutes when referee Chris Morrison pointed to the spot after Aaron Harmon appeared to push Dale Malone inside the box. Malone dusted himself down to take the spot-kick but keeper Neeson guessed correctly, diving to his right to produce a the save.

At the other end Josh Cash’s close-range header was cleared off the line by Aaron Rodgers.

Carrick were reduced to 10 men just before the break when Doyle saw red for a lunging tackle on Malone.

After a lifeless second-half the game sprung to life 10 minutes into extra-time when the visitors were awarded another penalty after Aaron Haire was brought down by Mark Surgenor. Haire stepped up and confidently slotted it down the middle.

Carrick levelled matters when Harmon set up Browne whose right-footed shot flew into the bottom corner.

The tie would be decided on penalties and when Lurgan’s Josh Barton skied his, Rangers were in control. That was until Harmon saw his effort saved by Gavin O’Neill. The Lurgan Celtic stopper was then denied by opposite number Neeson who confidently smashed home the next kick to seal it for Gary Haveron’s side.

Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, Traynor, Doyle, Surgenor, McNeill, Harmon, Johnstone (Cherry 93), Browne, Cash (Mackie 79), Miskimmin (Roy 79). Subs not used: Chines, Arthur.

Lurgan Celtic: O’Neill, McVeigh (Bunting 27), Rodgers, Hutchinson, McCann, O’Hara, Malone, Barton, Haire, Lavery (Kemp 64), Doyle. Sub not used: Douglas.

Referee: Chris Morrison