Irish Premiership: Carrick Rangers 1-2 Ballinamallard Utd

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Ballinamallard win Irish Premiership basement battle at Carrick Rangers

Ballinamallard United took a huge step towards Irish Premiership safety by beating one-from-bottom Carrick Rangers on Friday night.

Josh McIlwaine scored both goals to move the County Fermanagh men eight points clear of the bottom two.

Carrick, replied through a late Ryan Morris own goal, but defeat means they remain nine points ahead of bottom-placed Portadown.

Gavin Dykes' Mallards have won three of their last five league matches.

That form has hoisted them clear of immediate relegation concern, while Carrick have taken just two points from a possible 21.

Carrick boss Aaron Callaghan delivered on his promise to make changes after the 5-1 Irish Cup drubbing by Coleraine, bringing in new signings Sean Noble, Sam O'Connor and Tzee Mustapha.

The bottom half of the Irish Premiership table
The bottom half of the Irish Premiership table

McIlwaine put Ballinamallard into the lead in the fourth minute, taking the ball on his chest from a knock-on and smashing a shot past Carrick keeper Brian Neeson.

Carrick went close to equalising when a Mustapha header produced a superb low save by away keeper Richard Brush, and the rebound from O'Connor was blocked.

In the second half, Carrick again pressed for an equaliser but they were stunned when Ballinamallard doubled their lead in the 75th minute.

McIlwaine coolly slotted home his second after a cross into the box was not cleared by the home defence.

Carrick got a goal back late on when substitute Lee Chapman's miss-hit shot was turned into his own goal by Morris.

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