CARRICK RANGERS 2 BANGOR 2
Championship leaders Bangor came back from 2-0 down to rescue a point against Carrick Rangers at Taylor’s Avenue.
After a pedestrian first-half the game burst into life in the second session when a Miguel Chines double put the Gers in the driving seat. But Bangor hit back with two goals in the last five minutes.
Mark Cooling’s 85th-minute free-kick gave them hope before Jordan Forsythe stabbed home a last-gasp equaliser after a goalmouth scramble of epic proportions.
With the two sides taking a share of the spoils and Ards defeating Knockbreda 2-0 at Clandeboye Park, things are extremely tight at the top as the title race reaches fever pitch.
Bangor remain on top with second-placed Ards a point behind. Carrick are just three points off the pace but, crucially, they have two games in hand.
Gary Haveron’s men will now have to dust themselves down for Tuesday night’s East Antrim derby against Larne.
The blustery weather played a big part in a drab opening 45 minutes as both Carrick and Bangor struggled in the final third.
Chines came close with a left-footed free-kick which had just a little too much curl on it and it crept wide of the near post. At the other end, Forsythe came agonisingly to netting the opener but he failed to get a touch on Andy Morrow’s teasing cross.
When Chines took a tumble in the box after a tangle with Wray, there was a half-hearted penalty appeal but referee Steven Taylor wasn’t interested.
The second half was different kettle of fish and the game came to life when former Carrick stopper Simon Steele was booked for hauling Ben Roy to the ground.
On 71 minutes Chines broke the deadlock thanks to a 35-yard looping free-kick from the right which had Steele beaten all ends up.
Carrick looked to have had the three points in the bag when Chines doubled their advantage with the simplest of finishes from six yards after Steele had parried Cherry’s initial effort. But the Seasiders pulled one back when Mark Cooling’s 20-yard free-kick nestled in the bottom corner having made it’s way through a crowd of bodies.
Garth Scates’ men threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the home team and it paid off on 89 minutes when Forsythe forced the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble in the box.
Conor McCloskey almost nicked it at the end but his 25-yard free-kick came thundering back off the crossbar.
Carrick Rangers: Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, Traynor, Donaghy, R. Arthur, Kelly, Harmon, Cherry, Chines, Roy (McConnell 89), McCloskey. Subs not used: Watson, Dick, Lynch. Lagan.
Bangor: Steele, Long, Pike (Gibson 87), Wray, Youle, Walsh, Hall (McBurney 72), Cooling, Forsythe, McDowell (Boylan 78), Morrow. Subs not used: Nixon, Gibbons.
Referee: Steven Taylor (Belfast).