Premiership play-off first leg: Newry City 3-2 Carrick Rangers

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Newry hold narrow lead over Carrick in play-off

Newry fought back from two down to beat Carrick in the Premiership play-off first leg at the Showgrounds.

All the goals came in the first half with Carrick going 2-0 in front thanks to headed finishes from Darren Henderson and Paddy McNally.

Mark McCabe pulled one back and Stephen Hughes levelled with a deflected strike before Declan Carville edged City in front with a penalty.

Carville saw a second-half penalty saved by Carrick keeper Harry Doherty.

The Premiership visitors made the perfect start with two goals in the opening nine minutes.

Henderson connected with Andrew Mooney's cross for the opener and McNally doubled the lead from an Eamon McAllister delivery.

Early joy for Darren Henderson after the striker nets the opener for Carrick at the Newry Showgrounds
Early joy for Darren Henderson after the striker nets the opener for Carrick at the Newry Showgrounds

The comeback began with McCabe's turn and shot which crept in at the near post on 18 minutes.

Five minutes later and it was all-square as a deflected Stephen Hughes shot found the corner of the Rangers net.

Newry hit the woodwork three times, twice from Stephen Hughes while Mark Hughes was also denied.

Carville found the target on 35 minutes from the penalty spot, awarded for a Daniel Larmour handball, as Newry moved ahead.

However, the Championship hosts missed the chance to add a fourth in the 67th minute as Doherty kept out Carville's spot-kick after a foul on Mark Hughes.

The play-off is finely poised going into Wednesday night's return game at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

Newry are seeking to secure a fourth promotion in five seasons while the Amber Army won last year's play-off against Institute to preserve their top flight status.