Christmas came early for Carrick Rangers with three precious Premiership points at Ballinamallard on Saturday.
It’s been a pretty bleak few months for the Taylor’s Avenue side who have had to contend with a series of postponements while carrying the weight of a winless league run which had spanned 10 games. Few would have thought September’s 3-1 victory over the Mallards would have signalled a 98-day wait for another taste of success, but that’s exactly what happened.
The relief in the dressing room after Saturday’s gutsy win must have been palpable and the result is all the more notable when you factor in that Gary Haveron’s men were left to battle with 10 players after Conor McCloskey received his marching orders from referee Ian McNabb.
Despite Mallards’ boss Whitey Anderson describing his team’s display as nothing short of diabolical, Carrick dug deep and Aaron Traynor’s winner, the result of a mazy run down the left, was the highlight of a never-say-die performance which the Amber Army will be hoping will kick-start their season.
The victory opened up a nine-point gap over bottom club, and this weekend’s opponents, Warrenpoint Town.
The Boxing Day game will have been pin-pointed as one of Haveron’s must-wins the minute the fixtures were released in the summer and it was made all the more important after Barry Gray’s men bagged their only win of campaign at Carrick in September. It was a day in which Haveron bemoaned his team’s ‘pathetic’ defending, but revenge and another three points on Saturday would not only herald the Gers’ first back-to-back successes of the season, but would give them significant breathing space in the battle to avoid the drop.
n P38: match review from Ballinamallard.