CARRICK RANGERS 1 ARDS 1
Ards and Carrick Rangers gave themselves some breathing space with a hard fought Boxing Day draw at Taylor’s Avenue.
Danny Kelly gave Rangers the lead in the 31st minute, only for Ards to equalise through Emmet Friars four minutes into the second half.
Ards had a number of half chances in the opening stages of the game with Joe McKinney and Gareth Tommons going close.
Carrick kept Ards on their toes with a number of dangerous set-pieces. Left-winger Stephen McCullough gave his old side problems on the counter attack, strolling forward at will.
Carrick made the breakthrough in the 31st minute. Forward Daniel Kelly ran through the middle of the Ards defence before slotting past Aaron Hogg.
Ards midfielder David McCullough almost equalised in the 40th minute. His 20-yard effort was tipped over the bar by Brian Neeson.
Ards started the second half brightly, with a low half-volley from Stuart McMullan forcing Neeson into another fine save, tipping the ball round the post.
The equaliser arrived in the 49th minute. Kyle Cherry’s corner-kick was nodded home at the back post by captain Emmet Friars, with the ball clipping the inside of the post on the way in.
With the scores level, Ards looked most likely to score the winner, but Colin Nixon’s men struggled to create out a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Perhaps the best chance for a winner arrived four minutes from the final whistle when Joe McKinney flicked the ball into the path of Gary Liggett, but the former Dungannon Swifts striker was unable to find the target, blazing the ball well over the crossbar.
Ards have now not won a match since the first Saturday in October, while Carrick find themselves 10 points clear of basement side Portadown.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Foster, Surgenor, McNally, Kelly, McCullough, Morrow (72 Rice), McNicholl, Salley, M. Murray, Chapman
Subs Not Used: Lavery, Hanley, Taggart, Waide
Ards: Hogg, Hall, McMullan, Friars, Ruddy; Cherry, McCullough; Tommons (Hughes 84), McAllister, McKinney; Keke (Liggett 74)
Unused Subs: Arthurs, Brennan, McComb