Rock Celtic's Odhran Duffy knocks the ball up the line. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
NEFL Division One
Rock Celtic 2 Carrick Rovers 2
Having lost Conor Rafferty to a red-card in the opening quarter, Rock Celtic were glad to accept a share of the spoils from Friday night's Division One encounter with Carrick Rovers at Sandy Lane - a result which ensures both sides remain level on 20-points in second and third in the table.
But this wasn't to say that they were hanging on in a game dominated by official Paul McGeown's display. Paudie Gollogley's side led twice with Brendan Rogers and Derek Delany on target, only for Carrick to dubiously peg them back on both occasions.
After a tricky start where 'keeper Shane McCoy produced a fine stop, Rock settled into affairs with Rogers putting them ahead. The winger controlled and fired high to the net from right of the goal after good centre-forward play by David Ward on the edge of the area.
Aidan Curtin had an opportunity to double the lead only to drive over Rogers' pull back and that miss would prove costly as Carrick levelled from the spot at the other end, albeit in controversial circumstances. As Carrick's attackers raced into the penalty area, Rock custodian McCoy came out in an attempt to intervene, which he successfuly did so by palming the ball away from the feet of his opponent. However, the referee, whose view looked impeded, pointed to the spot.
And the hosts grievances were to be heightened further when centre-half Conor Rafferty was shown a second yellow card for a coming together, just minutes after being cautioned for a foul on the halfway line.
Having got to the break on level terms, Rock reshuffled their pack in the second-half and came out the stronger with veterans Delany and David Ward leading by example. Delany reinstalled their lead, finishing neatly after great wing play by Curtin and moments later the provider almost turned finisher when shooting wide after his mazy run had left four Carrick defenders in his wake.
But Rock weren't able to hold on to their slender lead as Carrick gained a point with their second equaliser. A long punt into the box looked certain to be gathered by McCoy, however, the former Louth 'keeper couldn't hold on among the sea of bodies and the visitors capitalised by toe-poking home.
Rock Celtic: Shane McCoy; Liam McDonald, Paddy Reilly, Conor Rafferty, Odhran Duffy; Brendan Rogers, Liam Keenen, Paul Gore, Aidan Curtin; Derek Delany, David Ward
Subs: Des McKeown, Gary Lennon, Ed Maguire, Mark Hannah