Institute 1-1 Carrick Rangers
Carrick Rangers hold a slight advantage over Institute, going into Friday night’s second leg Premiership playoff.
Marty Murray’s away goal from the penalty spot, which cancelled out Michael McCrudden’s opener, may turn out to be crucial.
However the Drumahoe men will feel they have the attacking players to score at Taylor’s Avenue, but the Premiership side will be hoping home advantage will ensure they avoid the drop.
Institute had the first chance on seven minutes but Stephen O’Donnell’s header from McCrudden’s free-kick, was straight at Rangers keeper Brian Neeson. The home side, who lost Stephen Curry in the warm-up with a calf injury, were forced into another change on 31 minutes as Darryl McDermott came on for the injured Raymond Foy.
That change meant that McDermott slotted into defence alongside Mark Scoltock, with O’Donnell moving into midfield.
On 39 minutes a super run by O’Donnell ended with his pass finding McCrudden, but he blasted wide.
The home side deservedly took the lead on 41 minutes as McCrudden was alert enough inside the box and fired home from close range.
Rangers levelled things two minutes later from the penalty spot after Niall Grace was adjuged to have handled the ball inside the box and Marty Murray slotted home from 12 yards.
Rangers were inches away from scoring a second goal but Mark Surgenor’s header flew just wide.
Aaron Smyth came to Rangers rescue on 51 minutes as he cleared the ball off the line, after McDermott’s powerful header was goal bound.
Soon after Sammy Morrow had a half chance after Neeson’s mishit clearance fell to the striker, but his shot towards the unguarded goal was well off target.
In the closing stages substitute Declan O’Brien, thought he had won it for Carrrick, but his header was ruled out for offside.
Institute: Gallagher, Roddy, O’Donnell, Scoltock, D Curry, Brown (Friel-Curran 74), Foy (McDermott 31), Grace, McIntyre (Dougherty 88); McCrudden, Morrow.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, McCulluagh, Taggart (Noble 52), McVey, Surgenor, Chapman (Foster 90), Murray, Kelly, McNally, McAllister (O’Brien 74).
Referee: Mr Lee Tavinder.