Carrick Rangers score four past Portadown ahead of crunch play-off
Ryan Strain was involved in each of the four goals as Carrick Rangers closed out the Bluefin Sport Championship campaign with a 4-0 victory over Portadown just days before the rivals will meet again at the same venue for a pre-play-off promotion clash.
Strain’s cross was forced home by Aidan McGeown on 27 minutes to break the deadlock.
Strong winds restricted the standard of play and Carrick enjoyed the benefits of the conditions before the break as Strain’s fortuitous effort found the net via a swirling change of direction.
Strain came close to a second goal after the interval but the curling free-kick bounced off the face of the crossbar.
Saves in quick succession arrived at either end of the field as Mark Carson fired goalwards from distance then McGeown tested Dylan Stewart.
A foul on the dangerous Strain allowed Craig McMillen the chance to slot home a penalty kick against his former club for 3-0.
A Dane McCullough corner-kick was met by Ross Larkin but Carrick regrouped to clear the looping header off the line.
Strain capped his fine individual display by curling home number four from the edge of the area.
CARRICK RANGERS: McAuley, Coyle, McCauley, Turk (Magill, 74), Gage, McDermott, McMillen (Nesbitt, 74), McNeill, McGeown, Weir, Strain.
Subs (not used): Adamczyk, Rodgers, Chapman.
PORTADOWN: Stewart, Carson (Storey, 82), McCullough, Larkin, Macuilaitis, Salley (Conaty, 54), Carmichael, Ferris (Gordon, 77), Robinson, Tipton, Hutchinson.
Subs (not used): Creighton, Murphy.
Referee: Diarmuid Harrigan.