Ballyclare Comrades made light of the sudden departure of manager David Dorrian and two players when they coasted to an emphatic 4-0 win in the second round of the Intermediate Cup.
Interim manager Stephen Hughes made several enforced changes in the line-up against Carrick Rangers Reserves with Andrew Simpson and Jonny McClurg replacing Samuel McIlveen and Stuart King who have both departed Dixon Park.
Hughes couldn’t have wished for a better start with the Reds Comrades two up after 10 minutes through strikes by defenders Adam McCart and Michael McQuitty. Randal Reid made it 3-0 at the break, with Curtis Dempster, making his first appearance since September, completing the whitewash fifteen minutes from time.
However the star of the show was Michael O’Hanlon. Normally a left winger he was switched to operate in behind twin strikers Chris Trussell and Reid, and although he didn’t figure on the scorecard he weighed in with three assists, having supplied the crosses for the first three goals.
The first came after only three minutes when skipper McCart took up position in the penalty area for an O’Hanlon free-kick, rose above his marker, and planted a firm header into the net.
Seven minutes later O’Hanlon delivered an inch-perfect corner into the danger area, where McQuitty scored his first goal for Ballyclare with a close range header that gave keeper Morrell no chance.
At this stage a goalfest seemed on the cards, but the young Carrick side recovered and settled down to move the ball around fluently, but they had a let-off when Trussell connected with another O’Hanlon pass, only to see his header rebound off the bar.
The visitors fell further behind on the half-hour when Jonah Nicholl’s long clearance found O’Hanlon, who threaded the ball through for Reid to slip the ball wide of the advancing keeper.
In the secodn half substitute Curtis Dempster chipped the keeper, and the ball crossed the line despite the valiant attempt by a defender to make a last-ditch clearance.
“After playing the first half at a high tempo, the lads took the foot off the pedal after the break, but never looked to be in danger of losing, with Jonah Nicholl having to make only one save,” said Hughes.
Ballyclare Comrades: Nicholl; Brown (C Woods 60’), Getty (Wharry 64’), McCart (C), McQuitty; Simpson, McClurg, Dobbin, O’Hanlon; Reid (Dempster 56), Trussell. Subs not used: A Hill, Doherty.