Ballymena United 0
Carrick Rangers 2
League (Sports Direct Premiership)


0 - 2

Carrick Rangers

League (Sports Direct Premiership)
Friday, December 15th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 772
7:45 PM Kick-off

None. David Cushley (pen.) (28)
Danny Gibson (96)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin Stuart King

Starting Eleven
Sean O'Neill
Mikey Place
Kym Nelson
Scot Whiteside
Caleb Crawford
Andy McGrory
Donal Rocks
Fraser Taylor
Dylan Boyle
Steven McCullough
Isaac Westendorf
Ross Glendinning
Steven Gordon
Lewis MacKinnon
Cameron Stewart
Ben Tilney
Albert Watson
Joe Crowe
David Cushley
Curtis Allen
Nedas Maciulaitis
Danny Gibson

Sam Johnston
Ryan Waide
TJ Murray
David Taylor
Jonathan McMurray
Shea McAuley
Noah Stewart
Ben McCauley
Ben Buchanan-Rolleston
Callum Mills
Mark Surgenor
Josh Andrews
Jack Montgomery
Jaydyn Withers

Noah Stewart for Mikey Place (61)
David Taylor for Andy McGrory (66)
Jonathan McMurray for Caleb Crawford (75)
Josh Andrews for David Cushley (65)
Ben Buchanan-Rolleston for Nedas Maciulaitis (89)
Jaydyn Withers for Curtis Allen (89)
Mark Surgenor for Joe Crowe (93)

Dylan Boyle (47)
Donal Rocks (90+2)
Joe Crowe (61)
Steven Gordon (79)
Josh Andrews (85)
Curtis Allen (89)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Shane Andrews (Referee)
David Burns & Kristian Hanna (Assistants)
Michael McKenna (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Danny Purkis scored with the final kick of the game to seal all three points in dramatic fashion at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

Suspended duo Emmett McGuckin and Reece Glendinning dropped out of the side that had narrowly lost to Crusaders seven days prior as Curtis Allen came in alongside the returning Cameron Stewart who was available after completing a ban of his own.

Having drawn two and lost two in their last four league outings, the ‘Gers were eager to return to the winning trail against a United side who had gone seven games since last tasting victory.

However, it was the Sky Blues who started the brighter at their floodlit Showgrounds home as Carrick struggled to get going.

First, a counter-attack from the hosts saw Donal Rocks get to the byline before cutting the ball back for the lively Fraser Taylor, but the young midfielder couldn’t hit the target from ten yards as he fired over.

Taylor then worked his way into the left channel of the box before cutting inside past Albert Watson but appeared to slip as he got his shot off, the ball comfortably in the direction of Ross Glendinning who got down low to gather.

With Jim Ervin’s side unarguably on top, the ‘Gers took the lead against the run of play on 27 minutes.

A good ball over the top from David Cushley was picked up by Allen in behind the United defence and when his cross came off the outstretched arm of defender Scot Whiteside, referee Shane Andrews showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Having been the one to create the move that led to the spot-kick, Cushley was the one to finish it off too as he coolly sent ‘keeper Sean O’Neill the wrong way from twelve yards to put Rangers ahead.

Carrick looked certain to double their lead on the stroke of half time when a short back pass from Caleb Crawford was pounced upon by Purkis who slid in and won the ball from the feet of O’Neill before skipping away from the covering Whiteside and Crawford.

However, fifteen yards out and with an open goal to aim at, the striker watched in agony as his shot flew over the crossbar to the disbelief of all those spectating.

As action recommenced in the second period, a change of shape led to Rangers enjoying more control of proceedings, limiting Ballymena to very little in the way of clear cut chances.

One did arrive for the Sky Blues just over ten minutes from time, though, as substitute Noah Stewart’s flick found fellow striker Isaac Westendorf in the box whose shot from eight yards was superbly denied by a resolute Glendinning in the Carrick goal.

Ervin’s men threw all they had into their efforts of finding an equaliser with numerous deliveries into the box that a resilient Carrick defence stood tall and strong to deal with.

And, in the dying seconds of the game, the result was made sure of.

A goal kick from Glendinning was missed by Rocks in the Ballymena defence, allowing Purkis to run in behind and charge towards O’Neill who he fired past when one-on-one to spark jubilant celebrations among the Carrick players and fans alike.

Match report written by Ryan Clarke (Official Club Website)

Squad Statistics (as at December 15th, 2023)

2023-24 All Time
Ross Glendinning (GK)30 22 - 62 -
Steven Gordon30 9 - 672
Lewis MacKinnon20 131131
Cameron Stewart26 11 - 312
Ben Tilney26 2411074
Albert Watson38 15 - 15 -
Joe Crowe25 201201
David Cushley34 2469721
Curtis Allen35 2473915
Nedas Maciulaitis24 264428
Danny Gibson28 26122612
Mark Surgenor (sub)37 24 - 27611
Ben Buchanan-Rolleston (sub)21 12 - 17 -
Josh Andrews (sub)19 15 - 17 -
Jaydyn Withers (sub)18 8 - 8 -

League Table (as at December 15th, 2023)

Pld W D L +/- Pts
1. Larne 21 14 6 1 +30 48
2. Linfield 19 15 1 3 +25 46
3. Cliftonville 20 13 3 4 +33 42
4. Crusaders 20 10 5 5 +15 35
5. Glentoran 20 9 5 6 +17 32
6. Coleraine 20 8 5 7 -5 29
7. Carrick 21 7 3 11 -20 24
8. Glenavon 20 7 2 11 -14 23
9. Loughgall 20 6 4 10 -8 22
10. Dungannon 20 3 6 11 -14 15
11. Ballymena 21 3 3 15 -27 12
12. Newry City 20 3 3 14 -32 12