Carrick’s 16-match unbeaten run came to an end as they lost 4-1 to Crusaders in the Irish Cup quarter-final at Seaview.
It was a battling display from Gary Haveron’s men where a Craig McClean own goal had given them a deserved lead at half-time.
Man of the Match was Crusaders’ Richard Clarke and he brought his side level early in the second half, before setting up Dairmuid O’Carroll’s header which put them in the driving seat.
Clarke added a third late on courtesy of a looping free-kick and teenager Gavin Whyte netted number four with the help of the post.
The opening 20 minutes of the match proved to be a cagey affair and, without a single shot on target for either side, the early action rather matched the dreary weather conditions.
The first real chance came on 27 minutes when Stephen O’Flynn whipped in a teasing left-foot cross for Clarke, but it was just too long for the former Glentoran man who failed to get any real purchase on his header.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Carrick’s Miguel Chines sent an inviting free-kick into the box, but Aaron Harmon just couldn’t apply the final touch.
At the other end, Whyte skipped past a few players and had a pop from 20 yards but it was easily dealt with by keeper Brian Neeson.
Conor McCloskey then stung the palms of Sean O’Neill with a 25-yard free-kick that moved and swerved in the air.
Carrick had clearly come to Seaview to frustrate Stephen Baxter’s men and they silenced the Shore Road crowd when McClean could do nothing but turn a Chines cross into his own net three minutes before the break.
But the Crues began the second session in determined fashion and it took just 10 minutes for them to draw level when Clarke found the the bottom corner with a right-foot shot from inside the box.
They stepped it up a notch on 65 minutes when O’Carroll headed home Clarke’s pinpoint free-kick.
There could have been hope for Carrick had Kyle Cherry done better with an 81st-minute diving header but it was the Premiership leaders who showed their class in the final stages of the match.
With five minutes to go, that man Clarke netted his second of the afternoon when his long-range free-kick dipped over Neeson before Whyte wrapped things up with a low shot from inside the 18-yard box that went in off the upright.
Crusaders: O’Neill, BJ Burns, McClean, Magowan, Leeman, Clarke, Whyte (Peoples 88), Caddell (O’Hanlon 87), Clarke, O’Carrol, Owens, O’Flynn (Hanley 79). Subs not used: Holden, McKibbin.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, Traynor, Donaghy, R. Arthur, Taggart (Dick 79), Harmon, Watson (Lynch 67), Cherry (Martin 88) Chines, McCloskey. Subs not used: Kelly, McKenna.
Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Bangor).