CARRICK RANGERS 2 BALLYMENA UNITED 2
Carrick fought back from two down to claim a 2-2 draw at home to Ballymena United.
A David Cushley double looked like it would pave the way for the Sky Blues’ third win on the spin, but the hosts fought back with a free-kick from Ryan Kane and a leveller from Ben Roy.
The result means the sides are still separated by four points in the Danske Bank Premiership table.
There wasn’t a great deal to write home about in a rather lacklustre first half but the game sparked into life in an action-packed second 45.
Ballymena carved out the first real opportunity on seven minutes when Allan Jenkins hammered a right-footed volley into the side-netting from the edge of the area.
It took another 25 minutes for the hosts to threaten the United goal, but Aaron Traynor’s deflected shot from 20 yards looped over the bar.
Cushley then came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock but his first-time shot from was superbly blocked by Ryan Kane.
Two minutes before the interval Mark Surgenor headed on to Chines. The Portuguese striker was through on goal, but his lob over the onrushing Dwayne Nelson dipped agonisingly over the bar.
Early in the second session Jenkins almost capitalised on a mix-up in the Carrick defence but his left-foot snap-shot zipped wide of the target.
At the other end, Carrick’s Adam Dick squandered a big chance when he blasted straight at Nelson.
The breakthrough came on 56 minutes when Cushley raced on to Johnny Taylor’s long ball and shrugged off Ryan Kane before slotting into the bottom right-hand corner.
Cushley doubled the Sky Blues’ advantage on 63 minutes when he rounded Carrick stopper Brian Neeson and angled the ball through a crowd of defenders and into the bottom corner.
But with 20 minutes left Carrick pulled one back thanks to a Ryan Kane free-kick. The right-back curled the ball low around the wall and into the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
Carrick levelled matters with nine minutes remaining when sub Ben Roy’s shot found the back of the net with the help of a hefty deflection.
Carrick: Neeson, Kane, Doyle, Taggart, Traynor, McCloskey, Johnston (McNeill 68), Surgenor, Harmon (c), Chines (Browne 68), Dick (Roy 60). Subs not used: Keenan, Miskimmin.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Ervin, McVey, Taylor, Ruddy, Faulkner, T. Kane, Taggart (Shevlin 83), Gawley (Millar 73), Jenkins, Cushley. Subs not used: McBride, Magennis, E. Kane.
Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey).