Ards 1-2 Carrick Rangers (1-3 agg): Niall Currie's side promoted after play-off win over Ards

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Watch: Carrick seal top flight return

Carrick Rangers will play in the Irish Premiership next season after a 2-1 win over Ards secured their promotion.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Carrick extended their lead through headers from Mark Surgenor and Ryan Strain.

Johnny Taylor pulled a goal back for Ards but the hosts could not overturn the deficit despite playing with an extra man in the second half following Christopher Rodgers' dismissal.

The result ends Ards' three-season stay in the top flight.

After defeat by Newry City in last year's promotion/relegation play-off sent Carrick down to the second tier, the Amber Army marked their return to the Premiership with a powerful display across two legs.

Carrick boss Niall Currie, who brought Ards up from the Championship in 2015-16, replaced David McAlinden at Taylor's Avenue following last season's relegation and sent his side out to extend rather than conserve their lead in the second leg.

Carrick
Carrick have returned to the top flight after just one season in the Championship

It took just four minutes for that to happen, when Surgenor met Stewart Nixon's inswinging corner to head home from three yards.

The visitors continued to push for further goals as they physically dominated their opponents, and nearly doubled their lead only for Sam Johnston to acrobatically claw away Michael Smith's goal-bound header.

However, four minutes later Johnston was powerless to stop Strain from flicking Rodgers' header into the net from close range.

Needing at least four goals to retain their Premiership status, Ards eventually found their feet going forward and reduced the deficit when Taylor turned in Kyle Cherry's free-kick.

Hopes of an unlikely comeback were further bolstered when Rodgers was shown a second yellow for a foul on David McAllister just five minutes into the second half.

However a tense finish failed to materialise despite chances falling to Mark Kelly and Darren Henderson, allowing Carrick to hold onto their lead with relative comfort before the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes among the vocal and sizeable away support.

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