Julien Anau (02)

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Carrick Rangers boss David McAlinden (©INPHO/Freddie Parkinson)

EARLY STRIKE SECURES CRUCIAL POINTS FOR CARRICK

Carrick Rangers boss David McAlinden watched his side hold onto an early lead to claim a vital three points with victory over Dungannon Swifts.

Rangers moved into the lead as early as the second minute through Julien Anau with a close range back post tap-in after Darren Henderson's initial effort was parried by 'keeper Stuart Addis.

Ryan Mayse tested Carrick 'keeper Harry Doherty on ten minutes with a decent effort while, on 21 minutes, David Armstrong saw his back post header cleared off the line by Darren Henderson.

Then, six minutes from the break, Daniel Hughes struck the crossbar after chipping the 'keeper when Paul McElroy's initial effort was pushed out.

The Swifts might have levelled early in the second half when Kris Lowe delivered a ball to the edge of the area only for Mayse to drag the ball wide of the target.

Looking to double their lead Carrick had a chance at the equaliser on the hour when Lee Chapman fired just wide from 20 yards.

And a couple of minutes after that Mark Edgar came within a whisker of finding the net with a curling left-foot free-kick with came back off the inside of Doherty's post.

The visitors had one last chance to level late in the game after Ryan Harpur found himself with time and space inside the area but couldn't keep his shot on target.

BBC Sport NI coverage

Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Larmour, Edgar, McNally, Chapman, J. Smith, Nimick, Kottoy, Henderson, McNulty, Anau subs Taggart (replaced Nimick 37), Scannell (not used), Mooney (not used), Gage (replaced Smith 86), Hassin (not used)

Dungannon Swifts: Addis, Hegarty, Wilson, Armstrong, Mayse, McElroy, O'Rourke, Lowe, Burke, Hughes, Hutchinson subs Coleman (not used), Fitzpatrick (not used), Harpur (replaced Burke 60), Teggart (replaced Hegarty 30), Campbell (replaced Mayse 76)

Referee: Raymond Hetherington

Attendance: 134