Aaron Burns (12)

1

Daniel Kelly (01)
Lee Chapman (23)

2

Lee Chapman scored what proved to be Carrick's winner midway through the first half (©INPHO/Matt Mackey)

CARRICK EDGE CLOSER TO SKY BLUES AFTER SHOWGROUNDS WIN

Goals from Daniel Kelly and Lee Chapman helped Carrick Rangers defeat Ballymena United at The Showgrounds.

The visitors needed just 45 seconds to seize the advantage thanks to Kelly's quick reactions to smash home the rebound after James Ferrin's header from Jerry Thompson's cross was kept out by Ross Glendinning.

Ballymena levelled on 12 minutes through Aaron Burns with a back post header after Carrick keeper Aaron Hogg lost track of Steven McCullough's corner.

But Carrick regained the lead midway through the first half when Chapman tapped home at the far post after Stewart Nixon's long throw-in had been flicked on.

United came within a whisker of equalising for a second time on 29 minutes when Andy McGrory received the ball on the edge of the six yard box after Ross Lavery had knocked on Jonny Addis' through ball but his strike came back off the underside of the bar before being cleared to safety by Thompson.

Both sides had chances early in the second half, Josh Kelly racing through one-on-one with Hogg but the Carrick keeper smothered his shot while Thompson's effort from outside the area was tipped over by Glendinning.

The game then settled into a bit of a lull before, in the final quarter-of-an-hour or so, the Sky Blues began to make an effort at salvaging something from the afternoon.

Kenny Kane came close but was denied by a Thompson clearance off the line, Shane McGinty fired wide from an Addis through ball, Andrew Burns saw a header suffer a similar fate, Addis nodded over and Aaron Burns finished tamely from close range.

But, in the end, Niall Currie's visitors held on to secure the win which moves them just one point behind David Jeffrey's side.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, Addis, McCullough, Kane, Andrew Burns, McGrory, Winchester, Ervin, Aaron Burns, Kelly, Lavery subs Williamson (not used), Mayse (replaced Lavery 73), McGinty (replaced Winchester 73), Balmer (not used), Glendinning (not used), Brown (replaced Andrew Burns 86), Warnock (not used)

Carrick Rangers: Hogg, Surgenor, Rodgers, Chapman, Faulkner, Kelly, Nixon, Ferrin, Cherry, Thompson, Keke subs McAuley (not used), Neale (not used), Loughran (not used), Smith (replaced Keke 58), Sachem (replaced Nixon 84), Hassin (not used), Anderson (replaced Cherry 66)

Referee: Raymond Crangle

Attendance: 740