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Danske Bank Premiership

Carrick Rangers 1 Ards 1

We settled for a point from our Boxing Day meeting with Carrick Rangers as a second half goal from Emmet Friars cancelled out Daniel Kelly’s opener.

It was honours even at Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena in the festive game with Friars’ equalising goal ensuring that new boss Colin Nixon’s unbeaten start to his tenure continued.

The afternoon’s first opening fell Ards’ way when an attempted clearance out of the Carrick defence only went as far as Gareth Tommons. He released Kyle Cherry on the right of the area and his well struck shot had to be tipped over the bar by Brian Neeson. At the other end Steven McCullough put a ball through for Adam Salley to run in on goal but he was denied at close range by a save from Aaron Hogg.

Carrick went in front with 31 minutes gone. Martin Murray knocked an accurate ball over the heads of the Ards defence to play in Kelly, who lifted a shot over the advancing Hogg and into the net.

Ards’ best chance of the drawing the match level ahead of the half time break came from David McCullough on 40 minutes when the midfielder struck a well hit shot from outside the area that Neeson was again forced into flight to tip over the top.

We had only to wait four minutes after the restart for the Ards equaliser to arrive. Neeson saved from Stuart McMullan at the expense of a corner and from Cherry’s ball in from the right Emmet Friars dropped off his man to head in at the back post.

Having been rooted in the relegation play-off spot for most of the season, Carrick were keen to see if they could turn one point into three and Steven McCullough went close to making the breakthrough, when he drove a shot in from the left of the area that Hogg pushed away for a corner.

Both sides had further chances to perhaps steal the game, none better than the one laid on for substitute Gary Liggett with four minutes left. Joe McKinney’s short pass put the Ards striker through but the shot from Liggett was well off target leaving both sides to settle for a point - not a bad outcome on a day when none of the bottom five teams managed a win.

26th December 2016


18 Aaron Hogg, 2 Greg Hall, 25 Emmet Friars (capt.), 4 Stuart McMullan, 3 Michael Ruddy, 20 Kyle Cherry, 6 David McCullough, 16 Gareth Tommons, 11 David McAllister, 10 Joe McKinney, 19 Guillaume Keke


8 Ross Arthurs, 9 Gary Liggett (for Keke (74), 12 Jordan Hughes (for Tommons (84), 14 Fra Brennan, 17 Carl McComb


Steven Gregg


Friars (49)


Tommons (62)




Match highlights (BBC Sport NI)

Emmet Friars scored early in the second half to earn us a point
Picture: Gareth McCluskey