Lough 41 Championship
Annagh vs Ards.
Tuesday 23rd August @ 7.45 p.m.
Having started the season with an impressive win at the Blanchflower Stadium Ards came back to earth with a bump last Friday night when they lost 5-0 to a rampant Loughgall side, a defeat that in all honesty could have been more without the efforts of Alex Moore in the home goal. Moore was actually Ards man of the match, an award that I'm sure he didn't expect given the scoreline but an award that was thoroughly deserved.
Annagh will present a tough hurdle, although a late comeback saw Ards win at the BMG stadium in last season's opening game, Annagh then took six points off the Red and Blues at Clandeboye Park on their way to second place in the table and a promotion play-off place at the end of the season. The fact that they lost that play-off 4-2 on aggregate to Portadown will no doubt have strenghened their resolve to do even better this term.
Annagh have got off to a good start so far with maximum points from their two games. They opened with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Knockbreda in which new signing from Armagh City Conor Mullen and the experienced Stephen Murray notched the goals and followed up with a 2-1 win at Institute. They were losing this game until two late goals turned the match in their favour. The winning goal came in the 87th minute when a long range free kick against ten men settled the outcome, home goalkeeper Dylan Doherty having been sent off for handling outside the area a few minutes earlier.
Matthew Tipton will be wondering how the side that performed so well against the Welders put in such an insipid performance against Loughgall and no doubt hoping that the team can get back to winning ways against Annagh, particularly with another tough fixture at home to Ballycare Comrades coming up on Friday night. A defeat at the BMG Arena would leave the Red and Blues six points behind the leaders and even at this early stage would mean playing catch up, not a situation any promotion chasing hopefuls want to be in. Ethan Taggart who had to miss the Loughgall game may come into contention and Conal Young is the only other injury doubtful, but it getting the right blend and formation that will be taxing the manager's mind.
The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the team of match officials is the same as it was on Friday against Loughgall, I for one hope that isn't a bad omen!
Match Officials :
Referee :- Glenn Buchanan.
1st Assistant :- Shane Geary.
2nd Assistant :- Kieran Eannetta.