Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 Ards 1-2 Dergview
A below par display and a couple of defensive errors saw Ards suffer their first league defeat of the Niall Currie era.
Despite a competitive first half, where both sides squandered chances, the second half did not produce anything nearly as good, as the game hinged on misplaced passes and needless fouls. Niall Currie watched the game from the stands as he served a one match suspension, and there he was joined by James Cully, who was also on the banned list. Skipper Darren Nixon failed his pre-match fitness test, which forced Sammy Devine to right back, with David Cully moving into the centre of defence. Nathan McConnell was recalled to the starting line-up, with new boys Joe Finlay, Andy Smith and Johnny Bowers seated on the bench.
The game's best early chance was for Ards when Craig McMillen burst through to the Dergview box and was denied by the goalkeeper. The loose ball fell for Ross Arthurs but with the keeper grounded and a near open goal in front of him, he lifted the ball onto the crossbar. On 28 minutes a great chance opened up for Dergview as a precise through pass put Ryan Campbell in on goal. Ards keeper Graeme McKibbin was quickly out to the edge of his area, only to slip and open up the goal for Campbell, but his clever chip went well high of the target.
Dergview threatened again just a minute later with McKibbin saving from Warner Mullan and then as a scramble ensued in the Ards area, Kris Pike threw himself into a fine blocking tackle to clear the danger. A chance opened up for Ards in the 33rd minute with Arthurs stealing a yard on his man on the right side of the field and putting over what seemed a poor enough cross. The ball somehow squirmed its way to McConnell, but with the striker in a good position, the ball got gathered up in his feet and the chance evaporated.
Ards' two strikers combined again on 40 minutes with McConnell this time bringing the ball up the field. A intercepting tackle on him saw the ball break loose to Arthurs, who opted for an early strike that the goalkeeper spilled back into the area. McConnell was first to react, taking the ball clear of the keeper, but failing to find an Ards man with his cross.
The deadlock was finally broken ten minutes into the new half with Dergview gifted their opening goal. McKibbin had gathered the ball from an over hit pass and attempted to find Kyle McDowell with his throw out to the left side. The throw landed well short though, as it was delivered straight to the feet of Aaron Arkinson and he advanced on goal to finish off very neatly.
With Ards having failed to kick into gear since the new half started, stand in boss Mickey McKeown quickly made three changes introducing Andy Smith for his debut along with Aaron McKee and David Magee. Ards' response to the Dergview goal was a good move involving Smith and Arthurs with the latter sending a great cross into the box that McConnell dropped off his man to head just over the upright.
Despite that chance, the changes in personnel had done little to bring Ards into what was deteriorating into a very poor game. Little was sticking up front for the home team and with Dergview looking decent on the break, the unfamiliar Ards defence struggled to cope with the pressure. That reality told two minutes from the end as confusion reigned in the area and Ards failed to deal with a free kick allowing Duwayne McManus to nip in between defender and goalkeeper and nick Dergview's second goal.
Despite that obvious setback, Ards did somehow drag themselves back into the game a minute after with Magee laying a pass off to McKee and his ball into the box found Arthurs, who took a touch, turned and put a fine shot past the goalkeeper. Too little, too late though as the visitors hung on and ensured the points returned to Castlederg.
of the match Gary Spence receives his prize from John Brown,
on behalf of
match sponsor Hugh Brown & Sons
Picture: Andrew McCullough
15th February 2012