Ballymena United had too much for Carrick Rangers in the Saturday evening game at a blustering Loughshore Hotel Arena.
Carrick, playing with the wind behind them, started with early promise with Jordan Jenkins forcing a save from Jordan Williamson and generally making his presence felt.
But Ballymena edged into lead on 21 minutes when, on the break, Jude Winchester flicked the ball forward for Paul McElroy to finish well past Aaron Hogg.
Carrick looked to use the conditions to their advantage in pursuit of the equaliser with Jenkins drawing another stop from Williamson before Jordan Gibson sent an effort against the crossbar.
Another opportunity followed soon after as the ball came across the area to the back post but Jenkins wasn't able to convert.
The visitors had a chance just before the break to double their lead but Shay McCartan could only drag his shot wide.
They had another opportunity early in the second half through Ross Redman, only to send his header over while just past the hour McElroy forced a good save from Hogg.
Hogg was called into action again on 73 minutes to deny Tony Kane from inside the box but, with nine minutes to go, United put the issue beyond doubt when Winchester sent a superb right foot finish into the top corner after McElroy had laid the ball off along the edge of the area.