10-man Ards ducks out with hard-earned point
Ballinamallard 1 Ards 1
NIFL Championship – 04/12/21
Ards continued their run of four away fixtures in a row with a 180-mile round trip to Ferny Park to take on Ballinamallard United. The Mallards sit just one point behind Ards in the league and will be looking for revenge after being well beaten 3-1 in the reverse fixture back in October. This tie tends to be a tight game but following Ards excellent performance last week there was genuine optimism today and confidence was high going in.
Ards fielded the same eleven today that done so well in last week’s victory against Institute, the only changes being on the bench with McGrandles and Scannell coming in and Glover and McCurry missing out.
Just as the game kicked off the heavens opened making for difficult conditions, with several playerson both sides losing their footing at key moments contributing to some of the more
controversial moments of the game, including a slip for TJ Murray that resulted in a second yellow and ultimately a red card that saw Ards play the last 30 minutes of the game with 10 men. I rarely mention theo fficials after the games, rather focusing on the players, but in games like today it’s very hard to skip over such a poor performance. We all know it’s a tough job, but some level of consistency should be the least we can expect from the man in the middle.
A well taken goal in each half, a contentious penalty, a red card, and a courageous defensive display sums up the 90 minutes with both teams probably being happy enough to take a point at the final whistle. Ards edged the first half scoring a great goal and seeing Bam make a fantastic save of a very dubiously awarded penalty. DD carried on with his impressive scoring form grabbing his second goal in two games on 18’ to give Ards a deserved lead. A composed finish inside the 18-yard box following excellent play from Jallow down the Ards right. The right-sided winger beat his man with ease and drove into the box before hitting a hard and low cross into the box finding the left-sided winger McAllister whose first-time effort gave Brown in the Mallards goal no chance.
DD Turns away in celebration after opening the scoring.
Ards were quickly brought down to earth with a bump when the referee awarded a penalty to the home team. The referee adjudged Conal Young to have clipped Moorehead sending him tumbling in the box. From my vantage point it seemed clear that the midfielder had tripped himself and there was no contact made by the Ards right back, perhaps the highlights will clear any confusion. The ref was unmoved by the Ards teams’ protestations, and the penalty stood. Justice was done however as Bam made a fantastic save down low to his right sending the ball out for a corner. It wasa great save and was met with a huge cheer from the travelling Ards fans. The first half finished 1-0 to the away team.
Ards didn’t start the second half well and really struggled to get back up to the pace of the game. Passes were misplaced and tackles missed which increased the pressure on the back line. The pressure was increasing with very little respite through the early stages of the half, but Reynolds did have a great chance on 57’ to increase the lead. The forward did well to out muscle his defender, then won the foot race to the ball beating the advancing Brown but with no support ran it wide and was unable to find a finish allowing Ballinamallard to clear their lines.
Bam stretches brilliantly to save the Mallards penalty
Things got tougher for Ards on 61’ when TJ Murray was shown a second yellow, and subsequent red, meaning Ards had to play the last half hour of the match with 10 men. It was an unfortunate yellow as he seemed to slip while trying to pull out of the challenge and ended up colliding with the Mallards man.
Ards were really under pressure, and it finally told on 71’ when Banda finished well to pull it back to 1-1. Having missed a penalty earlier in the game he certainly enjoyed the goal. It was disappointing for Ards, but they rallied well putting in a very brave defensive effort to see the game out and earn a well-received draw.
Ards are becoming known for innovative set pieces and in the first half we were treated to more well worked routines in the first half. DDs corner was fired into the box hard and low catching out the Mallards defence, expecting a high ball sent in, and finding Nelson at the back post. With his back to goal, he had to be inventive seeing his back heel at goal deflected for a corner. The freekick was well worked between TJ Murray and Cafolla, with TJ shaping up to have a shot on goal, he instead played it in on the floor to Cafolla who in turn laid if off for TJ to run onto and test the keeper. His shot was blocked and while the follow up was hammered into the net, the linesman’s flag was up ruling it out for offside. Neither routine worked out this time but shows the good work that the players are doing in training, and while we have had joy from these moves in previous games, they didn’t quite workout today.
Mixed emotions from the travelling RABA after the game with a degree of relief that we managed to hold on for the draw in the end but also a certain level of disappointment following the high of last week and the elevated expectations that result and performance had raised. Next up for Ards is the H&W Welders and our first visit to their new home ground at Blanchflower Park. This will be the 3rd away game in our current run of four in a row with the initial fixture being reversed while stadium works were ongoing. The Welders have had mixed results of late and are currently sitting 6th in the Championship only 1 point behind Ards after ‘match week’ 19.
Neeson, Dinu, McGovern, Ferrin, Young, Jallow, Cafolla, Murray, Nelson, DD McAllister,
Arthurs, Crane, Scannell, McGrandles
Subs not used:
Carry, Calderwood, E McAllister