CARRICK RANGERS 1, BALLYMENA UTD 4
Ballymena United claimed three valuable league points as they saw off Carrick Rangers 4-1 at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.
Goals from Allan Jenkins, Cathair Friel, Jonny McMurray and Conor McCloskey sealed the win for the Sky Blues, while the home side’s only goal came from Nathan Hanley.
After Saturday;s 4-3 defeat to Ards at the Showgrounds United boss David Jeffrey made four changes to his side with Alan Blayney, McCloskey, McMurray and Caolan Loughran all brought into the starting line-up.
Ballymena got off to the perfect start as they took the lead in the third minute through Jenkins.
The Scottish midfielder finishing from close range after a Tony Kane corner had caused all sorts of problems in the home defence.
It was a promising start from the Sky Blues who looked to be up for the battle.
It was 2-0 for the visitors in the 22nd minute as another Kane ball into the box was met perfectly by striker Friel and his glancing header gave Carrick keeper Simon Steele no chance.
It was 2-1 in the 30th minute and United manager Jeffrey will not be happy with this one after referee Raymond Crangle gave Carrick a free-kick inside the United box for keeper Blayney lifting a back pass.
But many in the ground thought the ball ended up in Blayney’s hands after a sliding tackle from a United defender.
The home side did not care however after Hanley shot home after the initial free-kcik was blocked by the massed United defence.
Seven minutes later it was 3-1 to United through a wonder strike from McMurray.
The striker hammering the ball from 30 yards. A fantastic finish from the young forward.
It was United who had the first chance of the second half. Winger McCloskey raced clear but he tried to square the ball when he really should have shot and the chance was lost.
But winger McCloskey made up for that mistake in the 61st minute as the winger rifled a shot with his right foot past a weel beaten Steele in the Carrick goal.
The game then went quiet as United protected their advantage while Carrick seemed short of ideas on how to get themselves back in the encounter.
Carrick’s Brian McCaul had a shot for the home side but his effort was off target.
Friel had another chance for United in the 88th minute but Steele did well to push the shot over the bar.
Carrick: Steele, Hanley, McNally, McCaul, McCullough, Clarke, Surgenor, McKeown, McNicholl, Murray, Salley.
Subs: Foster, Lavery, Kelly, Morrow, English.
Ballymena Utd: Blayney, Kane, Owens, Jenkins, McCloskey, Friel, Wallace, Ervin, Millar, McMurray, Loughran.
Subs: Thompson, Faulkner, Shevlin, Glendinning, McCaffrey.
Ref: Raymond Crangle.