Steel & Sons Cup final
Ards 0-3 Glentoran Seconds

There was disappointment for Ards in the Steel & Sons Cup final, as Niall Currie's team failed to sparkle at Seaview, allowing Glentoran Seconds to capitalise and put their name on the famous trophy for the 14th time.

The domination and flair that had so encapsulated Ards' season so far was absent in front of the Christmas morning crowd as they passed up early opportunities to take control of the game and ultimately surrendered the cup to a slick Glentoran team who were crowned winners with an albeit flattering scoreline.

With regular Andy Smith suspended, Currie looked to Ben Browne to lead his team's charge from midfield and he was instrumental in the first half chances that Ards made. After Ryan Moffatt had forced Glens' keeper Aaron Hogg into an early stop, his cross from the right a minute later had Browne laying the ball off to Neil Dougan, who drove the ball well and again demanded a stop from Hogg.

The busy Moffatt then sent a 21st minute free kick all the way through a crowded box to just miss the left-hand upright before he soon supplied Browne on the edge of the Glentoran area, but the cup winner from last year curled a shot inches wide of goal.

With Ards well on top for the moment, Glentoran's first effort of the match didn't arrive until the 30th minute when a punch out from Graeme McKibbin landed the ball at the feet of Carl McComb but the winger shot over the crossbar. Glentoran would be back however to take the lead seven minutes later. Whether with a shot or cross, Stephen McCullough provided the assist from the left and Richard Gibson was able to meet the flight of the ball to power a header past McKibbin.

Having dominated for large periods of the first forty-five minutes, all eyes were now on how Ards would react to being behind at the start of the second half. They enjoyed the first opening of the period three minutes in, with Ross Arthurs denied by a low stop from Hogg. Niall Currie's first change wasn't long in coming as Kyle McDowell replaced McMillen, who was on a yellow card, and for a time Ards looked like losing their way as first keeper McKibbin and then skipper Darren Nixon were noted by the referee.

As Glentoran played Ards more and more out of the game, Currie introduced Paul McDowell as a third striker, but the chances had all but dried up his team. As the game moved into the final ten minutes, it was Glentoran who had the momentum with them and substitute Jordan Stewart was unlucky with an attempted lob of McKibbin.

The second goal came on 85 minutes with McComb collecting a long punt out from the goalkeeper and combining with Daniel Burns to evade the challenge of two Ards defenders. A final pass saw the ball squared to Stephen Gordon on the edge of the Ards box and he found the corner of the net with an early strike.

Game over for sure and the misery for Ards was compounded as the Glens stole a third three minutes later. Slack marking to blame as a long corner from the left went all the way through to Gibson at the back post and he headed in his second to earn the man of the match award.

A deserved win for Glentoran's reserve XI, who took their chances when their opponents did not. Ards will have better days, with the focus now on how the players will respond to their biggest reverse of the season.

* It has since been confirmed that Glentoran II fielded an ineligible player in an earlier round and the decision was taken by the cup committee to therefore withhold the Steel & Sons Cup for this season.

25th December 2012

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1 Graeme McKibbin (GK)
2 Greg Hall
5 Darren Nixon (capt.)
4 Gary Spence
3 Kris Pike
23 Ryan Moffatt
14 James Cully
8 Ben Browne
7 Craig McMillen
10 Ross Arthurs
19 Neil Dougan

9 Paul McDowell
(for Moffatt 64 mins)
11 Kyle McDowell
(for McMillen 55 mins)
12 David Cully
(for Hall 67 mins)
16 Paul Dickson
18 Stephen Doyle

Keith Kennedy

McMillen (43 mins)
McKibbin (60 mins)
Nixon (63 mins)
For their support in this final, Ards FC thanks

Hugh Brown & Sons,
188 Belfast Road, Newtownards

and The Beautiful Game, Lurgan

In the Amigo Box
51 goals - 25.50

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