NIFL Championship – 27/12/21
Another Knock back for Ards in a Frustrating Festive Football Fixture
Ards finally returned to Clandeboye Park following 4 games on the road welcoming Knockbreda for a festive football feast on Boxing Day (+1). Being one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season we
had a great crowd turn up to support John Bailies men hoping to extend the Xmas revelries that little bit longer.
There were two changes to the line-up from the last outing away to Ballyclare with Ferrin and
Calderwood replaced by the returning McGovern and Young. At one stage in the fixtures today Ards were sitting comfortably in 2nd in the table but eventually finished the day where they started in 5th place as Knockbreda pegged them back late on to grab a 1-1 draw. Further evidence, if it were needed, of just how tight it is in the top half of the Championship as only 3 points separates 2nd to 6th . The sides traded goals in each half with Ards again in full control
of a Championship game but failing to make that domination count and once again find themselves being punished.
Ards looked on it right from the start and had a great chance to grab an early lead with Scannell’s looping header testing Deane in the Knockbreda goal. The keeper was equal to it producing a decent save high to his right, a positive opening from the home side that increased the fans optimism early on. Ards had another fantastic opportunity shortly after, McCurry this time linking up well with Arthurs and making himself a bit of space in the box, tried to bend an effort towards the far post. There was just a bit too much on it and it ended up going just wide of the mark.
McCurry wasn’t to be denied for much longer however as he opened the scoring for Ards on 11’, a brilliant touch to take the ball out of the air, a superb turn and a similarly great strike right across the box and keeper that smashed off the post and into the net. An Ards short corner, taken by Cafolla, laid off to Young whose cross ricocheted off the onrushing Breda defender and fell kindly for McCurry who did the rest. Just what Ards deserved after a bright opening 10 mins;
Ards continued to create excellent chances with Cafolla and Scannell getting the best of them but failed to extend their lead. Scannell tried an audacious lob from close to 30 yards out. The effort had caught out the Breda keeper with only the crossbar coming to his rescue. Another half where Ards dominated the ball and the play, took a deserved lead, but failed to capitalise and garner a more comfortable position.
Ards didn’t have it all their own way and just before the opening goal Bam was called into action making a sharp save down to his left-hand side to keep it goalless. His services were again called upon towards the end of the half when Knockbreda broke down their left, a simple ball down the line by Gilmour put Curran in on goal but Bam stood tall and saved well at his near post.
Cliches are rife in football “1-0 is a dangerous score line” and “you don’t take your chances, you’ll be punished” etc… but safe to say both old adages came true today. Ards could well have been 2 or 3 goals to the good at the break, and even early in the second half had chances to extend their lead, but our recent frustrations in front of goal were being relived today as we just couldn’t find that elusive second goal.
TJ Murray probably had the best of the second half chances for Ards shortly after the break but his effort around the penalty spot, was put well over the bar. Great work down the left from Ards with Dinu and Cafolla linking up well. Cafolla beat his man and made it to the by-line, cut the ball back brilliantly to TJ but his effort went well over the bar and didn’t trouble Deane in the Breda goal, he should have at least hit the target. Dinu himself had a great chance to extend Ards’ advantage on 64’
with a really well hit shot at the far post following a long throw in from the right. The ball was
initially headed out, Scannell went to strike but found only air, and the ball fell kindly for Dinu. I doubt he could have hit the ball any sweeter, and it seemed destined for the net but for a last-
minute Breda deflection that sent it out for a corner.
Knockbreda had a chance on 61’ that might have been a sign of things to come later in the half. Garrett’s freekick from the right was floated into the box, Bam came to collect but couldn’t reach the ball cleanly through a crowd of players in the box. The ball fell for the Breda attacker but with his back to goal, fortunately for Ards, his overhead kick went high over the bar. The equaliser came in similar fashion though as another cross in from the right, this time by McDermott, again Bam came
to gather and didn’t make it, this time Ards weren’t so lucky with the second ball falling to Wilson who easily converted making it 1-1. Chances were limited after the equaliser for both teams and after 3 minutes of time added on, the referee brough the game to a close.
Another case of points dropped after thoroughly dominating a game, the prevailing story of Ards season unfortunately. A really sour note in the game came in the 73rd minute which saw Jallow
having to go off injured, having only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes. A reckless tackle by Gilmour, who made no attempt to win the ball, injured the flying winger and cut his day short. Fingers crossed the damage is not too severe and he makes a swift recovery. The referee handed out a yellow but due to the reckless nature of the tackle, a red card would not have been a shock to anyone.
Ards record in the last 10 league games reads as 2Ws, 3Ds and 5Ls. Very inconsistent results
stemming from a lack of goals in matches where we have dominated in possession, play and chances
created. Of course, all the stats in the world are meaningless if those chances are not taken, and we are continually punished. Ards next game sees us head to Lakeview Park to take on Loughgall. Having been narrowly beaten last time out at Loughgall 1-0 Ards will be looking to make amends in what is proving to be a very tough and competitive league campaign.
Neeson, Dinu, McGovern, O’Hare, McGrandles, Young, Scannell, Cafolla, Murray, Arthurs
Jallow, Nelson, Reynolds, Crane
Subs not used:
Carry, E McAllister, Calderwood
MAN OF THE MATCH CALVIN MCCURRY
PRESENTED BY JOHN WILTON