By Jana McCabe
After a very convincing victory against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday, Ards faced title contenders Linfield at the Bangor Fuels Arena in a New Year’s Day clash. One change from the last starting eleven saw Gareth Tommons replaced by Jonah Mitchell.
In the third minute Michael Kerr’s pass into the box found Jonah Mitchell but his volley was palmed away by Blues stopper Roy Carroll. In the sixth minute Mark Kelly’s shot could only find the side netting as Ards looked for an early goal.
Linfield’s Jordan Stewart’s strike was wide of the right hand post in the tenth minute whilst, in the twenty second minute, Kym Nelson’s powerful free kick from a dangerous position was well saved by Carroll.
A great chance for Blues captain Jamie Mulgrew was well blocked by Craig McClean in the thirty sixth minute, whilst McClean was in action again, this time at the other end of the pitch, when his curling strike was saved by the Linfield keeper with the half ending 0-0.
Stephen Fallon’s shot was well saved by Ards keeper Sam Johnston in the early stages of the second half, and in the fifty seventh minute Andrew Waterworth’s shot flew across the face of goal but, to the relief of the home support, was wide of the left hand post.
In the sixty first minute Linfield got the opening goal when Jimmy Callacher’s free header from a Niall Quinn corner found the back of the net and made it 0-1. Shortly after Mulgrew’s close-range shot was just wide of the left hand post.
In the seventy fifth minute Linfield doubled their lead with an almost identical goal, when Callacher’s header from a Quinn corner beat Sam Johnston to make it 0-2.
In the seventy ninth minute Eamon McAllister’s corner found the head of Ards captain Callum Byers but his header was just wide of the left hand post. A header from Linfield’s Joshua Robinson was then just off target in the eighty fifth minute as Linfield looked for a third.
In injury time Eamon McAllister’s corner again gave Byers a good opportunity, but this time his header was saved by Linfield stopper Carroll. The game ended 0-2.
A strong first half performance, followed by a disappointing second half from Ards, saw them end the game with no points, whilst Linfield hit the top of the table. Attention now turns away from the league for a week with the visit of Carrick Rangers on Saturday in the Irish Cup fifth round.
Starting eleven: Sam Johnston, Michael Kerr, Craig McClean, Callum Byers, Adam McAleenan, Eamon McAllister, Kyle Cherry, Josh Kelly, Jonah Mitchell, Kym Nelson and Mark Kelly.
Used substitutes: David McAllister (for Kyle Cherry), Michael McLellan (for Jonah Mitchell) and Aaron Boyd (for Mark Kelly).
Unused substitutes: Matthew Davidson, Marc McKenna, Adam Brown and Mark Johnston.
Yellow cards: Josh Kelly, Kym Nelson and Kyle Cherry.