Hughes lauds long-awaited Carrick win

RELIEF and delight were the most obvious emotions in the Carrick Rangers camp after Saturday’s 3-2 win over Coagh United.

The precious three points gained at Hagan Park lifted them two places up the table – the first step in their hoped-for resurgence.

But Carrick’s manager, Michael Hughes, isn’t getting carried away, even though he revealed it was a special feeling for him watching their performance.

“It was the first time in a long time, probably ever, that I sat as manager on the bench throughout the game and was enjoying what I was watching. It really was very satisfying viewing that sort of performance,” said former Crystal Palace and West Ham star.

Putting the victory into perspective, it’s the first time Carrick have savoured that winning feeling in Championship One since way back in September. Since then they have played five and only secured a single point from a possible 15.

“Looking around the dressing room on Saturday, there clearly was a fair bit of relief for some of the players but the emotion was more of enjoyment, not least because there were seven new players in that changing room and they didn’t have the same pressure on them as the others.

“The win was the most important thing, but the quality of the performance was very pleasing because our supporters deserve that after all they have had to endure over the past few months; I’m especially delighted for them.

“We got off to a good start and we could have been five or six goals ahead, had we not missed a great chance when we were already 2-0 up. But, after they pulled a goal back in the second half, we quickly restored our two-goal advantage and it was great to see the quality of the play on a very heavy pitch from a team which hasn’t had much football over the last month and more.”

Hughes now switches his attention to Saturday’s visit of Loughgall to Taylor’s Avenue.

“It gives us a chance to make further ground up the table,” he said. “They will not be easily beaten, despite a 3-0 defeat last weekend by Tobermore. They beat us 2-1 at Lakeview Park and I think it will again be a tough test for us.

“However, I have every confidence in this team and, I was always confident that we would progress once we strengthened the team. The fact is, I am optimistic we are capable of doing it more quickly than perhaps I thought before, if we can continue to produce the level of performance we witnessed on Saturday.

“It’s a results-based business and wins are very important, but I think playing football in an appealing and entertaining way is what is satisfying to me. And I believe we have the players who can do this.

“If we play to our potential then I feel we can comfortably get up as high as fifth or sixth in the table – and, if we manage that, then who knows where we can get to.

“However, we don’t want to look too far ahead and now we will focus only on the match against Loughgall. We will try to get another win, one that will hoist us a bit further away from the bottom rungs of the ladder, and we will take things from there,” added the ex-Northern Ireland international.

Report by Kevin Hughes