NIFL Premiership

Carrick Rangers 3–3 Cliftonville 

Lloyd Anderson netted a 90th minute equaliser for Carrick Rangers in a sic-goal thriller at the Loughview Leisure Arena on Friday evening to deny Cliftonville from going six points clear at the top of the Premiership. 

Levi Ives’ free-kick was cancelled out on the half-hour mark by David Cushley, but Cliftonville were two ahead at the break thanks to goals from Sean Moore and Ronan Hale in first-half injury time. 

Kyle Cherry halved the deficit early in the second period, but it looked to be consolation until Anderson profited from Steven Gordon’s shot that clipped the post to make it 3-3 in injury time. 

Reds manager Paddy McLaughlin was disappointed that his side failed to hold out in the end, but insists they will take the point and move on. 

“It’s disappointing when you’re 3-1 up at any ground,” he admitted. 

“You’re hoping and you’re expecting that we could see the job through and we’re disappointed that we haven’t. It’s a hard-earned point, but it should be three. 

“It’s a really difficult place to come, we knew that before we started, and we knew that in the highs of Tuesday that coming here on Friday night was going to be really difficult. It proved to be the case. We’re disappointed we didn’t hold the lead, but we’ll take a point and move on.”

McLaughlin made one change the side that beat Linfield on Tuesday evening as Jamie Robinson came into replace Jonny Addis who picked up a knock, but was fit enough to take a place on the bench. 

Carrick made a bright start when Emmet McGuckin flicked on Ross Glendinning’s free-kick and his layoff fell to David Cushley whose effort was turned behind by Nathan Gartside. Steven Gordon then tried a curling shot that the goalkeeper held onto comfortably. 

At the other end, Levi Ives tried a spectacular snapshot that rose off target and then Kris Lowe whipped in a dangerous cross that Mark Surgenor cleared ahead of man of the moment Sean Moore. 

The 17-year-old was clipped by Jim Ervin on the edge of the box and the opener arrived from the resulting free-kick. 

Levi Ives claimed responsibility and sent his curling effort over the wall and past Ross Glendinning to put the league leaders ahead. 

Ives could have doubled his advantage a few minutes later after Moore was felled again, but this time the left back’s effort was too high to trouble Glendinning. 

The Rangers’ shot-stopper did well to prevent Ronan Doherty from making it two goals in the space of three days with a save low down. 

The hosts restored parity on the half-hour mark as Ben Tilney’s corner was met by Steven Gordon and his header was steered off the line by Rory Hale, with David Cushley firing home from close range to make it 1-1. 

Their joy was short-lived though as Cliftonville quickly restored their lead. Sean Moore once again showed his magic, taking a break of the ball from Joe Gormley, and confidently finding room for a shot that he curled beyond the reach of Glendinning for his third goal of the month. 

Sean Moore made it 2-1 to the visitors

Sean Moore made it 2-1 to the visitors

Rangers threatened an immediate response when Tilney’s long throw caused panic and was half-cleared by Luke Turner, Kyle Cherry tried his luck with an effort from range that was fumbled by Gartside and gathered at the second attempt. 

Cliftonville shot-stopper Gartside would depart through illness before the break and Carrick again went close when Cushley’s corner was headed wide at the back post by McGuckin. 

Four minutes into added time, Cliftonville doubled their lead as Rory Hale had his heels clipped by Reece Glendinning and Levi Ives’ free-kick was headed home by Ronan Hale who peeled away from Kurtis Forsythe to make it 3-1 at the break. 

Carrick started the second period on the front foot with a Cushley free-kick whistling inches past the post. 

On 51 minutes, the hosts halved the deficit when Jim Ervin picked out Ben Tilney with a long ball from a free-kick and Tilney sent in a low cross that Kyle Cherry turned home at the back post to make it 3-2. 

Chances were at a premium in the aftermath as Cliftonville looked to be heading six points clear at the summit, but there was to be drama in East Antrim. 

Ross Glendinning hoisted a high free-kick forward that was glanced on, Steven Gordon turned and saw his shot crash off the post and Lloyd Anderson slotted home to earn his team a point at the end of an epic 3-3 draw. 

CARRICK RANGERS: Ross Glendinning, Forsythe, Surgenor, Ervin, Gordon, Cushley (Kalla 80’), McGuckin, Cherry, Reece Glendinning (Gawne 70’), Tilney, Anderson. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Gartside (G Doherty 44’), Lowe, Robinson, Turner, Ives, Gallagher, R Doherty (Casey 59’), Rory Hale, Moore, Ronan Hale (Addis 85’), Gormley (Parkhouse 59’). 

REFEREE: Shane Andrews