Danske Bank Premiership - Saturday 20th January 2018 at Bangor Fuels Arena.
By Jana McCabe
Ards came in to this game after conceding a heart-breaking 93rd minute goal at Seaview the previous Saturday, whilst Ballymena enjoyed a comfortable win against struggling Carrick. Cameron Stewart made his debut in the red and blue of Ards, with Luke Kelly making his home debut.
Familiar face Matthew Shevlin had the first chance of the game when his header was just wide in the 5th minute. In the 19th minute, skilful interchange between Michael Ruddy and David McAllister resulted in Ruddy’s header just missing the target. Then Ballymena fans appealed for a penalty when Fra McCaffrey was pulled down by Ruddy in the penalty area, but the referee ignored their pleas much to the anger of David Jeffrey.
Reece Glendinning then opened the scoring in the 24th minute gaining possession, before finding Jonny Frazer whose clever back-heel found Glendinning and the full-back’s shot from outside the box found its way past his brother Ross in the Ballymena goal after a fumble.
Stewart was then booked, before Kofi Balmer should have levelled the game when Johnston collided with his own defender dropping the ball, but Balmer failed to find the target. David Elebert was booked after this incident, with Elebert then clearing Kyle Owens’ shot off the line in the 40th minute, so the half drew to a close with Ards 1-0 up.
The second half opened with yet another penalty appeal from Ballymena with claims that Shevlin’s shot had been handled by Elebert. Gareth Tommons was then booked before, in the 62nd minute, Ards had their first chance of the second half when Frazer’s good pass gave Michael McLellan a good chance but the Ards marksman just couldn’t control the pass.
McAllister was then replaced by Scott Davidson in the 67th minute, before another effort from McLellan in the 71st minute was deflected over the bar. This was McLellan’s last contribution to the game as he was replaced by Guillaume Keke who immediately had a great chance with a one-on-one on the Ballymena ‘keeper but his shot slid wide.
Kyle Owen then missed a free header in the 73rd minute, before Frazer was replaced by Josh Kelly. In the 79th minute, Keke missed another great chance when he beat the ‘keeper but his shot struck the post. In the 85th minute, Keke then found his new strike-partner Cameron Stewart inside the penalty box but he was dispossessed by the Ballymena defence in the nick of time for the away fans.
Shevlin nearly levelled matters in the dying moments with his shot striking the post. In the final minute Stewart gave fellow home debutant Luke Kelly a good chance but he was unable to control his pass.
So the game ended 1-0 with goal-scorer Reece Glendinning receiving the man of the match award. Ards remain in 9th place, one point behind Dungannon with a game in hand on the Swifts making next week’s away trip to Stangmore Park even more important.
Team: Sam Johnston, Reece Glendinning, David Elebert, Callum Byers, Michael Ruddy, Gareth Tommons, Luke Kelly, Jonny Frazer, David McAllister, Michael McLellan, Cameron Stewart
Subs: Scott Davidson (for David McAllister), Guillaume Keke (for Michael McLellan), Josh Kelly (for Jonny Frazer),
Unused: Kyle Cherry & Adam McAleenan