Cliftonville misses a chance to go six points clear after Lloyd Anderson’s late strike gave Carrick Rangers a tie

Cliftonville have extended their lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership to four points but Paddy McLaughlin will think it should be six.

The Reds seemed well ahead of their nearest challenger, Larne, only for their neighbors Carrick Rangers of East Antrim they did a great favor.

Kyle Cherry and Lloyd Anderson gave the hosts a 3-1 lead in the last minute, earning a crucial point for Stuart King’s men.

The home side had their first chance of an entertaining game in the sixth minute when Emmet McGuckin fired in a free-kick from Reece Glendinning.

The ball landed at David Cushley’s feet but Cliftonville’s Nathan Gartside was quick off his line to save.

The visitors began to assert their dominance when Kris Lowe’s deep cross shot over Carrick’s goal, but none of his onrushing team-mates could touch the ball.

Cliftonville scored the opening goal in the 15th minute after Jim Ervin brought Sean Moore down on the edge of the box. Levi Ives took the resulting free kick and went straight for goal, hitting the wall and hitting the bottom corner.

McLaughlin’s side saw more of the ball as the game progressed and after 26 minutes Ronan Doherty smashed his man through before his long-range shot was tipped around the post by Ross Glendinning.

Carrick equalized after half an hour when Cherry took a corner into a dangerous area, causing a scrum in the box. Eventually, Cushley was there to convert at close range.

Immediately after kick-off, Cliftonville was ahead again. The hottest player in the league, Moore, sidestepped Ben Tilney on the edge of the area before beating several defenders and placing a wonderful flick into the far corner.

Carrick continued to threaten, particularly on the left wing.

Tilney was a constant attacking presence for the home team but with no bottom line.

There was then an injury concern for McLaughlin as goalkeeper Gartside had to be replaced by experienced former Derry City and Crusaders stopper Ger Doherty just before the break through injury.

The score was 3-1 at the break when another Levi Ives free-kick caused problems for the home defence.

This time he crossed from the set piece and found the head of the unmarked Ronan Hale, converting from six yards.

Two minutes into the second half, Cushley nearly gave the hosts a rebound when his free-kick from the edge of the box went just wide of the post.

Moments later they had a second goal. Ervin’s ball over the top of the defense picked out Tilney, who opted for an early cross.

His ball went right over the goal before Cherry hit the back post.

It looked like a consolation, but that was until late drama when Steven Gordon played through and his first shot came back off the post but Anderson was on hand to convert the rebound.

There were some ugly scenes at the end between Cliftonville fans and some Carrick players, but eventually order was restored.

Carrick Rangers: Ross Glendinning, Forsythe, Surgenor, Ervin, Gordon, Cushley (Kalla 79) McGuckin, Cherry, Reece Glendinning, Tilney, Anderson.

Unused subs: Hogg, Gawne, Buchanan-Rolleston, McKiernan, Waite, Gillen

Cliftonville: Gartside (Doherty 43), Ives, Gallagher, Rory Hale, Lowe, Robinson, Doherty (Casey 59), Gormley, (Parkhouse 59), Turner, Ronan Hale (Addis 85), Moore.

Unused Subs: C Curran, R Curran, McDonagh

Referee: Shane Andrews (Comber)

Man of the Match: Kyle Cherry

Game rating: 8/10 Cliftonville misses a chance to go six points clear after Lloyd Anderson’s late strike gave Carrick Rangers a tie

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