We welcome Carrick Rangers to Dixon Park tomorrow afternoon in the 1st Round of this season’s Irish Cup.
When: Saturday 8th January – Kick-Off 3:00pm
Where: Dixon Park
What: Samuel Gelston’s Irish Whiskey Irish Cup
Entry: Pay at the gate – £10 (Adult) / £7 (Concession)
*Reminder to season ticket holders that season tickets are not valid for cup games.
Match Sponsor – Montgomery Transport
Ball Sponsor – 365 Taxis
Carrick Rangers got off to a flying start in the Danske Bank Premiership this season under new manager, Stuart King. More recently, however, results haven’t been going their way and they currently occupy 9th spot in the league table. Last week, they brought their losing streak to a halt with a hard-fought point away to Crusaders. King’s side had lost their previous six outings but almost got off to a perfect start inside the opening moments when Stewart Nixon forced a save from Crues keeper Jonny Tuffey. At the other end Philip Lowry created space on the edge of the area to test Matthew Skeet with a low drive. The bright start didn’t materialise into an entertaining first half with the next real effort of note not arriving until moments from the break when a David Cushley free-kick reached Daniel Kelly but he could only direct the ball wide. It took a while for the second period to get going as well with Carrick coming close to breaking the deadlock on the counter when Kelly produced a left sided diving save from Tuffey to turn a curling effort away. Jarlath O’Rourke then had a go from around 30 yards with just under a quarter-of-an-hour to go but Skeet did well to hold onto the ball. The hosts did have the ball in the net soon after that but Johnny McMurray’s finish was ruled out offside while the same player later scuffed a left-foot shot wide.
Last week, Lee Upton scored both goals as Annagh United came from behind to defeat The Comrades at Dixon Park. Annagh came close to breaking the deadlock inside the opening ten minutes in an otherwise scrappy start when Craig Taylor clipped the crossbar from a free-kick. However, it fell to the Comrades to find a way through when, on 27 minutes, Tom Mathieson turned the ball home with his left foot after Matthew Herron had cut the ball across from the right. The visitors levelled just before the hour with Upton’s first of the game when he rose highest on the edge of the six yard box to nod home a high free-kick into the area. Then, a quarter-of-an-hour after that, he bagged what proved to be the winner with another close range header. The Comrades players protested vehemently that an Annagh player had been standing in an offside position in front of Jack Ferguson, blocking the ‘keeper’s view, but after a long consultation with his assistant the referee let the goal stand. As time ticked away the hosts began to exert some pressure; five minutes into injury-time, what looked a clear goal was not given. Ian Fletcher got free on the left and played a ball into Andrew Mooney who shot from 10 yards. The Annagh ‘keeper appeared to have spilled the ball well over the line and then clawed it back, but the referee and his assistant at that end didn’t agree and no goal was given. Speaking after the game, Paul Harbinson was encouraged by his side’s “good performance levels in what was a really tough day for football”. He also made clear his “disappointment in the decisions that went against us. I’m not one to complain about decisions but today I am. Unfortunately we put ourselves in a place where we allowed those decisions to count and we need to learn from that.” On tomorrow’s upcoming fixture against Carrick, the manager said “It’s a derby, we have to just look at it as a local derby, everybody should be up for it and it shouldn’t take any motivation. It’s a longstanding rivalry between the two clubs and I’d like to think we go into it with heart and fire in our bellies and that’s what the Irish Cup is all about.”
Last Time Out
The last time these two sides met in a competitive fixture was back in November 2018 in the Championship. The Comrades fell to a comprehensive 4-1 home defeat to Carrick on the day. Smith opened the scoring for the visitors as early as the 3rd minute when his free-kick from a central position 22 yards out split the wall and fired past the unsighted Ben Fry. The home side reacted well to this disastrous start and were soon back on level terms. Adam Gray produced a superb run down the middle and surged into the box, where he linked up with Jamie Willighan, receiving a return pass before firing the ball low into the net from 11 yards. The men in red were buoyed by this goal and looked like they could make a game of it, but defensive frailty struck again on 20 minutes to gift Carrick the lead. The visitors got in much too easily, attacking down the left and penetrating the box, where Dean Youle was forced to slide in with a desperate tackle, conceding a penalty. Smith stepped up to calmly convert the spot-kick. The home side continued to look vulnerable at the back and in the 34th minute they conceded another penalty. This time it was Curtis Woods adjudged to have fouled and Smith again stepped up to take aim from the spot. Ben Fry made an excellent save to deny him his hat-trick, but Carrick’s Kelly was quickest to react to the loose ball, slotting it in from inside the 6-yard box. In the 63rd minute the destination of the points was put beyond reasonable doubt when Carrick scored a fourth goal. A Neale corner was headed in from 4 yards by Kelly, giving Fry no chance. Tempers boiled over in the 73rd minute. An incident involving Dean Youle and Carrick’s Murray ended with both players receiving a red card.