By Jana McCabe
After a narrow defeat on Saturday, Ards looked to bounce back in the BetMcLean League Cup quarter final tie against Ballymena. Five changes saw Jason Mooney, Johnny Taylor, Eamon McAllister, Kym Nelson and Aaron Boyd replace Sam Johnston, David Elebert, Jonah Mitchell, Gareth Tommons and Mark Kelly.
In the sixth minute a shot from inside the box by Ballymena’s Adam Lecky was saved by Mooney as the Sky Blues looked for an early goal. David McAllister’s well-timed pass to Josh Kelly was then blocked by centre back Johnathan Addis in the ninth minute. Jonny Frazer’s long-range shot was then saved by Ballymena stopper Ross Glendinning in the eleventh minute.
Leroy Millar’s strike crashed off the post in the seventeenth minute, before Steven McCullough’s shot from distance was off target in the twenty eighth minute as Ballymena continued to press.
On the half hour mark, Frazer’s shot from the edge of the box trickled wide of the right-hand post. Callum Byers then made a crucial clearance off the line to clear Jude Winchester’s goal-bound shot in the fortieth minute and the half ended 0-0.
David McAllister’s strong strike from inside the box was palmed over by the Ballymena keeper in the forty ninth minute. Adam Lecky’s shot made Ards keeper Mooney produce a fine save in the sixty first minute, before Millar was again denied by the bar in the seventy first minute.
Lecky’s deflected shot from outside the box was then well saved by Mooney whilst, for the home side, substitute Marc McKenna couldn’t keep his shot down with a great opportunity clearing the bar in the eighty second minute.
Injury time saw heartache for Ards when Ballymena finally found the back of the net with Winchester’s shot from inside the box deflecting off Johnny Taylor to break the deadlock.
However the game wasn’t over, and Ards had one last chance, but a last minute equaliser wasn’t to be after keeper Glendinning collided with his own defender, with the ball falling to substitute Mark Kelly but his shot was narrowly wide of the empty net to the disbelief of the Red and Blue Army.
Agony for Ards as a late minute goal gave Ballymena the victory. A crucial tie in the relegation battle this Saturday sees Ards travel to the Newry Showgrounds where they’ll look to pick up crucial points.
Starting 11 - Jason Mooney, Callum Byers, Adam McAleenan, Johnny Taylor, Craig McClean, Eamon McAllister, Josh Kelly, Kym Nelson, David McAllister, Jonny Frazer and Aaron Boyd.
Used Substitutes: Mark Kelly (for Aaron Boyd), Jonah Mitchell (for Eamon McAllister and Marc McKenna (for David McAllister).
Unused substitutes: Sam Johnston, Michael Kerr, Kyle Cherry & Gareth Tommons