By Jana McCabe
Current champions Crusaders visited the Bangor Fuels Arena, with Ards looking to pick up crucial points as their relegation battle continues. Callum Byers, Michael Kerr, Johnny Taylor and Kyle Cherry all left the starting eleven with David Elebert, Adam McAleenan, Gareth Tommons and Kym Nelson taking their places.
In the sixth minute great teamwork between Jonny Frazer, Jonah Mitchell and David McAllister saw Mitchell’s strong strike blocked by the Crusaders defence. In the thirteenth minute Craig McClean showed his experience when he dispossessed familiar face Ross Clarke and gave Mark Kelly a promising opportunity but his poor first touch meant the chance was wasted.
In the twenty first minute Sam Johnston did well to block Rory Patterson’s freekick as both sides looked for the opening goal. Josh Kelly’s powerful close range shot looked like it had found the back of the net in the thirty second minute but his shot was just wide of the right hand post.
Ross Clarke’s skilful ball to Paul Heatley saw Johnston come out to save with Heatley cleverly beating the Ards keeper but his resulting shot was well blocked by Josh Kelly. Heatley was in action again when his shot was saved by stopper Johnston seconds before the half time whistle. The half ended 0-0.
In the fifty second minute Patterson’s volley was saved by Johnston as Crusaders looked for an early second half goal. The Crues did break the deadlock in the sixty fourth minute when Jordan Forsythe’s cross from the left hand side found Heatley whose shot flew into the back of the net to make it 0-1.
Josh Kelly’s mistake was nearly taken advantage of in the seventy first minute but a shot from the dangerous Heatley was well saved by Johnston. Seconds later Johnston yet again came to the rescue when a goalbound strike from Kyle Owens was well blocked by the stopper.
McClean crucially headed a Crusaders chance off the line to deny the reigning champions a second in the seventy fifth minute. Then David Elebert’s header from a corner was just wide of the post in the eightieth minute.
Adam McAleenan’s well-timed tackle then denied Heatley a one on one opportunity in the eighty sixth minute. Ards then had a final chance to grab a point in the dying seconds when a free kick from Gareth Tommons eventually found substitute Michael McLellan but he couldn’t find the target and the game ended 0-1. Kym Nelson picked up the Man Of The Match Award.
With this loss Ards fall in to the drop zone, with attentions turning away from the Premiership as Ards face Ballymena in the BetMcLean cup on Tuesday night.
Ards: Sam Johnston, Josh Kelly, Adam McAleenan, David Elebert, Craig McClean, Jonah Mitchell, Gareth Tommons, Kym Nelson, David McAllister, Jonny Frazer and Mark Kelly.
Used Substitutes: Eamon McAllister (for Jonah Mitchell), Aaron Boyd (for Mark Kelly) and Michael McLellan (for Kym Nelson).
Unused substitutes: Jason Mooney, Matthew Torrens, Marc McKenna and Ryan Strain.
Yellow cards: Gareth Tommons.