LLOYD LEADS THE WAY WITH CARRICK WINNER
A Lloyd Anderson goal midway through the second half helped Carrick Rangers defeat Cliftonville at the Loughshore Hotel Arena.
The game got off to a somewhat subdued start with neither side creating much in the way of clear cut chances in front of goal.
However, Carrick's new signing, Darren Murray, carved out the best effort of the game so far before the half-hour mark when he tried to lift the ball over the advancing Richard Brush only for it drift wide.
That opened the game up a little with Cliftonville's Michael McCrudden testing Harry Doherty from the edge of the box at the other end while Daniel Kelly and Conor McDermott had efforts well saved closer to half-time.
McDermott perhaps came closest to breaking the deadlock early in the second half when he strode past two home defenders before having a go from the edge of the box but he could only look on as the ball skimmed the wrong side of the right post.
Then, a few moments later, Jamie Harney did have the ball in the net from Garry Breen's flicked header but it was ruled out offside - and Cliftonville had another chance as the game progressed when McCrudden pounced on a miscommunication between Harry Doherty and Mark Surgenor but the Carrick keeper managed to scrambled the ball to safety.
But what proved to be the winner came on 66 minutes. Cliftonville had failed to deal with a ball into the box with substitute Anderson punishing them with a hooked finish past Brush.
Reece Neale then threatened with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining but Brush kept the game alive with a brilliant stop before Michael Smith got past the visiting defence but again Brush called a halt to the advance.
Despite Cliftonville pushing for the equaliser as time ticked down Carrick looked the more likely to find the net again with Anderson twice seeing last chances fall short, one kept out by Brush and another finishing wide of the target.
Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Carson, Neale, Surgenor, Loughran, Faulkner, Kelly, Nixon, Magill, Cherry, Murray subs Nicholl (not used), Smith (replaced Murray 72), Keke (not used), Hassin (not used), McGreevy (not used), Colligan (not used), Anderson (replaced Cherry 62)
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Breen, Harney, C. Curran, R. Donnelly, McCrudden, Maguire, Doherty, McMenamin, A. Donnelly subs Dunne (not used), Ives (not used), R. Curran (replaced Maguire 67), Foster (not used), Wilson (not used), Bagnall (replaced C. Curran 65), Gormley (replaced McCrudden 67)