• Jana McCabe


It’s been over 25 weeks since Ards played at the Bangor Fuels Arena but finally the Red and Blues returned with a friendly against Premiership outfit Crusaders.

In the opening seconds of the game Ards had the first opportunity when Eamon McAllister’s accurate pass was followed up by a header by Kym Nelson which was tipped away. However the resulting corner was quickly cleared by the alert Crusaders defence.

Crusaders had multiple chances including Jamie McGonigle’s strong strike which was well saved by Brian Neeson in  the home goal, with McGonigle’s volley also being denied by the Ards stopper.

In the closing stages of the first half a shot from Jordan Owens struck the inside of the post after he had created a bit of space in the penalty area, the loose ball was quickly cleared by  the hard working Ards defence to the relief of the watching home fans in the crowd which was capped at 250 to comply with current restrictions. The half ended 0-0.

Half time replacement Craig McMillen had the first chance of the second half when his close range strike was well saved by Gerard Doherty. Reece McGinnley’s strong strike then made Ards’ second half keeper Declan Devine produce a lovely save to keep the game goalless. Philip Lowry’s close range strike was also denied by the busy Devine. Then in the sixty seventh minute Jake Corbett’s strike wasn’t strong enough to trouble Doherty.

However in the eighty fourth minute the away side scored the first and only goal of the game when McGonigle’s free kick from a dangerous central position found the bottom left hand corner. The game ended 0-1 in favour of Crusaders but home fans will have been pleased by the energy and effort on show from the Red and Blues against  a strong Crusaders side, with some of the new signings showing up well.

Ards starting eleven :- Neeson,  Young, Magill, McGovern, Dinu, E. McAllister, Nelson, T.J Murray,  Corbett, D.McAllister, Cassidy.

Second half subs :- Devine, McMillen, Calderwood,  Harwood, O'Haire, Green and Beta.