Irish Premiership: Curran on target as Cliftonville edge 10-man Carrick

Curran's ninth league goal of the season was enough to secure a third win in a row for Cliftonville
Curran's ninth league goal of the season was enough to secure a third win in a row for Cliftonville

Ryan Curran scored the only goal as Cliftonville moved into fourth in the Premiership with a 1-0 win over 10-man Carrick Rangers at Taylors Avenue.

Curran struck his ninth league goal of the season with a low shot after 32 minutes.

Jordan Jenkins missed two big chances for Carrick, who finished the game with 10 men after Kurtis Forsythe was shown a red card for a foul on Paul O'Neill.

Cliftonville move above Crusaders into fourth while Carrick remain 11th.

While Carrick came into the game on the back of defeats by Glenavon and Coleraine, they caused the visitors' defence plenty of problems during an enterprising first-half display.

Jordan Jenkins, without a goal since joining Carrick on loan from Glenavon in January, was heavily involved in the home side's attacks.

First, the 20-year-old saw an effort charged down by Aaron Donnelly and, from the resulting corner, he felt he should have had a penalty when he went down under Ryan Curran's challenge.

While referee Evan Boyce waved away the appeal, Cliftonville had Aaron McCarey to thank for keeping the game goalless as he tipped Lloyd Anderson's effort onto the post.

A couple of minutes later, Jenkins passed up a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring when, having shrugged off Garry Breen, he misjudged an attempted lob over McCarey and watched it sail over the bar.

And while Carrick lacked a clinical edge in front of goal, Curran encountered no such trouble as the in-form Reds striker bagged the opener after 32 minutes, firing low to Aaron Hogg's right-hand side for his ninth league goal of the season after being found by Kris Lowe.

Five minutes after the restart, it was Cliftonville's turn to miss a golden goalscoring opportunity as Rory Hale skewed his shot wide after impressive work from O'Neill, who nicked the ball off Steven Gordon before driving forward.

Reece Glendinning then came close to a goal-of-the-season contender when his rising drive from 25 yards crashed off McCarey's crossbar.

Just after the hour-mark, Carrick's hopes of a comeback were dealt a crushing blow when Forsythe was shown a straight red card for a late lunge on O'Neill, who looked to launch a Cliftonville counter-attack.

Referee Boyce also showed red cards to Andy Hunter and Brian Donaghey of the Carrick and Cliftonville backroom teams respectively for their part in a touchline argument that erupted in the aftermath of Forsythe's challenge on O'Neill.

Cliftonville winger Daire O'Connor failed to put the game beyond Carrick when he tamely fired at Hogg after being teed up by fellow substitute Michael McCrudden, but Niall Currie's men were unable to mount a late charge as the Reds picked up a third win on the bounce.

Cliftonville striker Ryan Curran speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound: "Three massive points for us and we have a bit of momentum building now with three wins in a row.

"We made it slightly harder than it should have been after Carrick went down to 10 men, I think we had some good chances to kill it off.

"We knew we didn't start well, myself, Paul O'Neill and Chris Curran were quiet in the first 20 minutes but the goal changed the game.

"I don't know if we're necessarily in the title race, we've played a few games more than some of the teams around us, but it's good to have those points on the board.

"We're happy to go about our business quietly, but we're not naive enough to be talking about titles at this stage of the season."