SKY BLUES END ON WINNING NOTE
Ballymena United limbered up for next week's Irish Cup final with a narrow victory over Carrick Rangers at The Showgrounds.
The Sky Blues had the ball in the net with less than a quarter-of-an-hour on the clock but David McDaid's lob over Aaron Hogg was ruled out offside.
A game of limited chances, the visitors were presented with a great opportunity to open the scoring when they were awarded a spot-kick following a Josh Kelly challenge on Alexander Gawne but David Cushley's subsequent penalty came back off the inside of the post before being cleared.
The deadlock was broken, however, seven minutes into the second half when Ross Redman sent in a free-kick for Kelly to beat Hogg with a downward header.
Both sides had further openings as the game progressed, most notably when Cushley fired over from the edge of the area while, for United, Robbie McVarnock saw a left-sided cross drift just past the far post.
Ballymena United: Williamson, Redman, Wilson, Whiteside, McDaid, Kelly, McCullough, McGrory, Gibson, Place Farquhar subs O’Neill, Nelson, Waide, Kane, Tweed, McVarnock, Tipton
Carrick Rangers: Hogg, Forsythe, Ervin, Cushley, Mitchell, McGuckin, Gawne, Buchanan-Rolleston, Reece Glendinning, Tilney, Anderson subs Ross Glendinning, Surgenor, Kalla, Cherry, Maciulaitis, Graham, Andrews