Carrick Rangers vs Ards.
Loughshore Hotels Arena.
Friday May 3rd at 7.45 p.m.
Carrick earned the chance to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking with a 2-0 win over Portadown in the Championship play-off game on Tuesday night, which was no less than they deserved after finishing so far ahead of the Ports in the regular season. The Carrick team is of course managed by Niall Currie and John Bailie, who will both have good memories of their time at Ards, while the playing squad has several players with connections to Ards, including Aaron Hogg, Reece Neale, Denver Gage, Craig McMillen and Ryan Strain. Although the team has changed considerably, Carrick will want to banish thoughts of last season's play-off games which saw them lose 6-3 on aggregate to Newry City and they will have the memory of beating Ards at Bangor in the Irish Cup earlier this season to give them confidence.
Ards fans will feel they are a different proposition since the arrival of Warren Feeney and a return of 13 points from the last nine games that took them from the foot of the League table to the play-off place shows a vast improvement from the 14 points gleaned from the previous 29 games.
There will of necessity be changes to the playing panel and starting eleven against Carrick. Gareth Tommons and Callum Byers are major doubts following their injuries during and prior to the game respectively at Warrenpoint last week, while young Jourdan Shearer is a doubt after being taken ill during a training session on Monday. On the plus side midfield powerhouse Kym Nelson is available after suspension, as is Kyle Cherry, while Craig McClean and David McAllister should have recovered from injury. Fans will be hoping for the same organised, committed approach that has left the team unbeaten in the last four vital games, as Ards bid to extend their current stay in the Premiership to a fourth season.
The PASC are running a bus to Carrick, leaving the Social Club/Gibson's Lane area at 6.30 p.m. Hopefully a big crowd will travel to cheer the side on in the penultimate game of the season and will return on Monday to see the team secure Premiership status.
Referee : Tony Clarke.
Assistant 1 : Mark O'Brien.
Assistant 2 : Neil Gillespie.
4th Official : Shane Andrews.