Just one win from four games in all competitions this month, but the results belied an assured quartet of performances.
First up was Loughgall in the Bluefin Sport Championship at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena. A dominant ninety minutes, but profligacy in front of goal proved costly. The visitors scored with one of very few chances to cancel out Caolan Loughran’s first Rangers goal. The late dismissal of top scorer Michael Smith, for retaliating to a horrific foul, compounded a disappointing afternoon.
A midweek trip to Solitude, to take on Cliftonville in the Bet McLeans League Cup, saw Carrick put in their best performance in some time, dominating possession and creating a host of chances before losing 3-2 through a late Joe Gormley strike. Earlier, the visitors had pulled back from a 2-0 deficit with efforts from Daniel Kelly and Lloyd Anderson, but ultimately former Carrick ‘keeper Bam Neeson, making a rare appearance for the Reds, pulled off a string of saves as Rangers bowed out, but with heads held high as the home support applauded them off the pitch.
A short trip down the County Antrim coast road saw Rangers take on heavily financially backed Larne in the Championship. Despite the visitors showing up well in spells, ultimately the better quality available to the hosts’ squad paid dividends, as they secured a flattering 4-0 win. Hard to see any Championship side getting anywhere near the Inver Park sides inevitable run to the title.
The month concluded with a home 4-2 victory over PSNI, going some way to make up for the disappointing defeat in the corresponding away fixture. A terrific performance from Stewart Nixon, with two goals and an assist, completed a decent overall team effort. Anderson and Chris Rodgers scored the other goals.
In the four games played in October, Carrick Rangers played some terrific football – in patches. If there was one criticism, it would be the relatively poor conversion rate of goalscoring chances created.
The improved form has coincided with two specific changes that manager Niall Currie has introduced: captain Mark Surgenor has dropped from midfield into central defence, and his place in the middle of the park has been taken by Ashton McDermott. A seemingly small change, but so far has been most effective.
Plenty of positives as we enter November.