It was honours even in the end as Ards battled out a 1-1 draw at Clandeboye Park on Friday evening . Things were looking good for the home side at half time as they held a 1-0 lead thanks to Joe Tullys header after 6 minutes , However a second yellow card for Conall Young on 56 minutes handed the initiative to the visitors. With 20 minutes remaining a questionable decision by the referee to award a penalty to Institute (A decision which seemed to take him an age to make ) left Ards with an uphill battle but the players dug deep and despite a few scares they held out for a deserved draw.
Matthew Tipton on his home debut as manager decided to recall Brian Neeson in goals , A decision that seems to be justified as Neeson would later be named Man Of The Match by Sponsor Johnny Red Shoes . Ards started brightly using their wide players at every opportunity and after only 6 minutes Cranes high ball in was met by Tully who flicked the ball over the advancing Connolly who it must be said made a hash of his attempt at collecting the ball.
TIptons men continued to have the upper hand in the opening half with Institute rarely causing any sort of problems for the Ards backline . Dee Dee McAllister in particular caused no end of concern out wide , And it was from his good work that Ben Igiehon was inches away from getting Ards second but for an outstretched foot from Riley . Igiehon again went close soon after this time heading just wide after another great ball into the centre of goal .As the 1st half reached its conclusion the busy Cafolla tried his luck from the corner of the penalty area but a slight deflection took the ball into Donnellys path but his header went harmlessly over .
half time 1-0
Institute came out fighting in the 2nd half and pegged Ards back immediatley in the driving snow . Bam Neeson would soon be called into action having to make a few smart stops in the early stages of the new half . But as Ards gradually worked their way back into the contest disaster struck after a 50/50 challenge resulted in Conall Young earning a 2nd yellow much to the dismay of the home support .
The visitors smelt blood and started to pile forward with Ards struggling to make inroads at the other end , Tipton made changes to introduce fresh legs with Salou Jallow replacing the tiring Igiehon and Calderwood coming on in place of Scannell but the Institute equaliser from the spot arrived not long after and as Ards ran their socks of to keep the scores level Institute must wonder how they didnt take the lead as after a scramble in the box left a stute player with what seemed a certain goal but for Neeson to somehow deny the effort and Ards breathed a huge sigh of relief .
The home side eventually regained some composure and on a few occasion threatened to themselves take the 3 points and when McAllisters cross found the far post the unrushing Jallow looked certain to head home only for an Institute defender to clear for a corner . Ards were certainly giving it everything but in the final seconds of the game disaster almost struck when a low ball across the 6 yard box finally found its way to the back post and Neeson again stopped what looked like a heartbreaking end to the proceedings , Immediatley after Milligan blew the final whistle and mixed emotions for the fans as holding out for over 30 minutes with 10 men seems like a good result however they will feel that some more composure in the final third might have had the game sewn up before half time. Nobody can complain about the effort shown by the players on the night and how they stood up to be counted when reduced to 10 men .
Next up is the long trip to Dergview again on a Friday evening .
MOTM - Brian Neeson awarded by match sponsor Johnny Red Shoes