January, like December and November before it, was a disappointing month. During it, a club record was set: sixteen matches without a win, and counting. Just as worrying is that during that run, only seven goals were scored. Not the sort of from that is going to secure Premiership survival.
The opening fixture of 2018 was a home Irish Cup tie against Glenavon. The home side pushed the Lurgan side to the limit, as a Mark Surgenor penalty took the game into extra time, only for the visitors to score twice in the additional thirty minutes to progress to the next round.
Linfield were the next opponents as they visited the Belfast Loughshore Arena for a re-arranged Danske Bank Premiership fixture. In a hard working and organised display, Carrick held out until the final ten minutes when the Blues scored the solitary goal of the match to take the spoils.
With the transfer window open, manager David McAlinden brought a raft of new players into the panel: Damien McNulty (Finn Harps) and Brendan Glackin (Oldham Athletic) were first to arrive, followed by Ralph Cottoy (Larne), Ryan Nimick (on loan from Crusaders), Eamon Scannell (on loan from Linfield) and Darren Henderson (Portadown).
A combination is suspension carry-over, injuries and agreements that loanees will not turn out against their parent club has meant not all the new signings have played together, but the final two matches of the month suggests their appearances can’t come too soon.
A trip to Ballymena United marked a new low. The opening half was bereft of incident or quality from both sides, but an early goal from the hosts after the interval was a catalyst for a re-run of the Alamo. As has been the case for the past two months, conceding a goal drained what little confidence was present, as wave after wave of Sky Blue attacks added two more goals, though in all honesty it could have been five or six as the Carrick team wilted.
Worse was to follow. A short trip to Seaview was over as a contest within minutes, as Crusaders took an early lead. After that, it was a case of how many? Six was the answer, as it turned out, though the woodwork (twice) and Harry Doherty (more than twice) kept it to single figures.
It’s obvious to all that going so long without a win (it was still British Summer Time when Rangers last tasted victory) is having an understandable effect on player morale and confidence. Its equally as hard to see how that next elusive victory is going to be achieved. The players are, in my opinion, good enough to avoid the trapdoor, but converting that into points is the conundrum that McAlinden is trying to solve.
Please, God, let me be reporting on at least one win when February ends.