With Linfield’s fate already decided, it was Championship action for me on Tuesday as I headed to Newforge (First time visit too) to see PSNI take on Carrick Rangers, both sides whose destiny this season is anything but decided.
Both sides were desperate for a win but for different reasons – Carrick to go into their final game top, and PSNI to avoid relegation.
A lack of floodlights at Newforge meant this game was a 6.45pm kick-off. Unfortunately, I missed the opening minutes, and a goal for Carrick from Ciaran Donaghy, which will have settled their nerves
From when I arrived, Carrick were dominant, but just couldn’t get that killer pass.
The game threatened to boil over after a wild challenge from PSNI’s right-back, who got a yellow when it should have been a red. Carrick’s bench were annoyed, responding with language that couldn’t be repeated on this blog, but it was along the lines of Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo Oscar Foxtrot Foxtrot.
More robust tackling came from the peelers, with inevitble “POLICE BRUTALITY!!!!!” cries from the Carrick support.
Eventually, Carrick turned their domination into goals, with a double blast just before the break – a header from McCloskey and a finish from Cherry.
If Carrick were planning on taking it easy at 3-0, their bench wasn’t going to let them, as players were lambasted if standards dropped.
PSNI made a good start to the second-half, with a shot going wide.
The nervous Carrick fans wanted a 4th goal, just to be sure. They thought they had it, but a Miguel Chines effort was ruled out for offside.
PSNI got a goal back when a saved shot hit a Carrick player, Smyth, and went in. Carrick’s fns got nervous, but became less nervous with each passing minute with the score at 3-1.
Carrick were able to see the game out, and their fan’s attentions turned to events at Tillysburn, when a Bangor defeat away to Harland and Wolff Welders would have sent them up with a game to go.
It wasn’t to be, as Bangor won 1-0.
This result meant that Carrick secured a play-off place at least. Both Carrick and PSNI go into Saturday’s games knowing that a win will help them secure their aim of promotion (Carrick) or safety (PSNI)
With Carrick being at home to already relegated Dundela, you would expect them to get the three points.
If they do, it will mean a first ever visit to Taylor’s Avenue for me at some point next season.