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Ards 2 Dergview 0 – Match Report














NIFL Playr-Fit Championship – 23/03/24

By Phillip Bartlett

 

Clearer ‘View for Ards After Deserved Win

Ards settle relegation playoff fears with victory over nearest rivals Dergview.

 

 

Hailed as the biggest game of Ards’ recent history, one would hope or expect us to be referring to a cup final or a promotion chasing playoff fixture at the top end, but circumstances dictate that we are in fact referring to a Championship basement battle in a bid to secure our position the football league. Unfortunately, that is where we are and victory today over our nearest rivals Dergview would go a long way to securing league status for next season and allow focus to switch to a more long-term vision for improvement and progression. Ards recent record makes for poor reading and is the worst in the league by some distance having lost the last 5 in a row while todays opponents have picked up 5 points in the same period. Ards have enjoyed our previous two encounters against ‘The Constitutes’ having already ran out 3-0 and 4-2 winners, the hope is we can make it a treble today and ease a lot of worries in what will be a quintessential ‘6-pointer’. While Dergview have had success recently at home, they do tend to struggle on the road but in a match such as this form goes out the window with such high stakes.


Ards are back in action after over 2 weeks without a game - Dergview in town

 


One change to the Ards team that lined up against Portadown just 4 days ago with the Ards #1 coming back in between the posts as Moore replaces Shields in goal. Same back 4 with McCart and Arthur commanding central defence with Greer and Ruddy either side full backs. Newell carries on up top, a focal point through the middle, being supported with the pace of Miller and Hunter either side. Steele, Taggart and Cafolla make up the rest of the starting 11, the hard-working trio looking to dominate the middle of the park and dictate play at both ends of the field. Dergview have some noticeable absences today with both Cowan and Harkin missing from todays squad, Cowan being a noticeable absence at the back while the Tyrone side will definitely be worse off without the creativity of Harkin in their midfield.

 

Finally, those long-suffering supporters in red and blue had something to cheer and celebrate as the RABA ran out 2-0 winners on the day. A scoreless first half with plenty of missed chances brought back concerns of old that we would go on to regret those opportunities, but front man Newell eased concerns 2 minutes after the restart, turning at the near post after good work down the left from Ards. Ards were rarely tested throughout the 90, and what chances they did get were as a result of mistakes by the home team, Moore and Ruddy combining to deny the visitors a clear goal with the score still at 1-0. A last-minute Michael Ruddy penalty secured the win late on, the Ards captain having been restored to penalty duty, making no mistake easing it past O’Gara to seal the 3 points. The game was over and after 5 minutes of time added on the referees whistle was greeted with much home jubilation eventually ending a 14-game run without a win and bringing manager John Bailie his first win in his second spell in charge.


One change to the Ards team from the last outing against Portadown

 

It was a miserable day for football with persistent, heavy rain along with high winds ensuring it was never going to be a classic game of football. Given the situation both teams find themselves in, the result and 3 points was always going to trump the aesthetics of the gameplay.

 

It was an opening 45 that Ards dominated in terms of chances and possession but were unable to find a way past O’Gara, the Dergview keeper making several impressive saves and showing decent positioning to get his team out of trouble on more than one occasion. It was a fast start from Ards testing O’Gara as early as the 2nd minute as Cafolla shoots from distance. Ards could, maybe even should, have been in front on the 7th minute, Ross Hunter coming within inches of finishing off Millers ball in from the right. Miller looking lively early on skipped past Fielding wide right before flashing the ball across goal, Hunter agonisingly close to converting as he slid in at the back post.

 

Miller involved again several minutes later as he was involved in a foot race with Dergview keeper O’Gara having been played in by Taggart. O’Gara won the race but having came out of his box had to use his head to clear the ball. It went only as far as Ethan Taggart, who had continued his run, and with O’Gara still way outside his area had the goal at his mercy. He was unable to collect and sort the ball out in time to have a shot on the empty goal, deciding to hold the ball and play in Newell down the right. Newell crossed into the box looking for someone in red and blue, but it was easily cleared. Ards trying to press their advantage early on. Newell was back in his more familiar position several minutes later and on 25’ really should have opened the scoring and gave Ards the lead. Miller continuing to be a thorn in the side of Dergview, the visitors unable to handle the pace of the Ards wide man. He again skipped past several challenges before squaring the ball to Newell some 10 yards from goal. It was a well weighted pass leaving Newell with just the keeper to beat, his side footed effort was goal bound but lacked real power allowing O’Gara to reach it with his trailing boot and drag it just wide of the goal. That should have been the opener, Ards doing everything right but the final finish.



Aidan Steele back to his best today, covered every inch of the pitch

 


Déjà vu for Ards as once again Miller is played through, simple ball over the top and again he’s in a race against O’Gara as the Dergview keeper once again has to leave the safety of his box to challenge. Similar story, O’Gara managed to reach the ball first and do enough to clear the initial danger, but the goal is again left open. Taggart was there for a second time and this time he does manage to get a shot away, but the effort was always curling away from the target, eventually spinning out for a Dergview goal kick. Another opportunity spurned. Ards kept up the pressure, not allowing Dergview to get any sort of time on the ball, ensuring a boring first half for Moore having been recalled to the team.

 

After a couple of minutes time added on referee Milligan took the teams into the half time interval, Ards happy with their performance and creativity but no doubt disappointed at not having taken any of the chances created.

 

No changes for Ards at the break, the same 11 take to the field after the interval. Ards get the game going looking to start where they left off at the end of the first half. 0-0 as Dergview get the game restarted, Padraig Lynch getting us underway.

 

2 minutes after the restart Ards were in front, Lee Newell ‘Jonny on the spot’, converting smartly at the near post after good work by hunter down the left. I’m not sure what was more audible around the ground, the supporters cheers or the supporters sighs of relief at finally breaking the deadlock. Ross Hunter made the goal, playing a nice 1-2 with Taggart before weaving through a couple of Dergview challenges then cutting the ball back matching the run of Newell. Simple finish in the end, great work by Hunter, Ards finally with the lead their performance deserves.

 


Paddy Cafolla making up a familiar trio in the middle of the park alongside Taggart and Steele


Dergview now finding themselves behind have little choice but to step out and try and play a bit more, boss Emmet Friars quickly making changes to a more attacking proposition. Those changes nearly had an immediate impact with substitute Duffy going as close as anyone in white on 52’, trying his luck from a free kick wide right. The wind was still a problem, but Moore tracked it all the way and it was a simple take in the end. Dergview were trying to lift their game and enjoyed their most fruitful spell as Jack Parke, assisted by the conditions, nearly caught Moore out at his back post. It was a speculative effort indeed, I expect he was trying to play it back into the box for a teammate, but the wind caught the long-distance ball and conspired to lift it over Moore and into the back of the net. After a couple of seconds panic, Moore was able to drop back and collect the ball high in the air right on the goal line. Ards breathe a sigh of relief, our fragile lead still intact.

 

Ards seemed to have dropped off somewhat since taking that early lead, allowing Dergview back into the game and very nearly paid the price on 64’ as Sean McDonagh went close to scoring for the visitors, the Dergview midfielder’s header hitting off the bar from a well-placed corner. It was the smallest of touches, using the pace already on the ball to loop it towards the back post. Moore was well beaten but fortunately it didn’t find its way under the bar. Ards rallied after that recent scare and could very well have double their lead minutes later, as both Ross Hunter and Ethan Taggart went close in a busy 30 seconds. Miller and Newell combined well to create the first opening for Hunter, the resulting shot lacked power allowing the clearance. Miller once again involved collecting the ball and passing it through for Taggart, well placed with just O’Gara to beat but again the shot was unconvincing, and O’Gara read it well making the save down to his left.

 

Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the match on 73’ when Dergview looked to all intents to have equalised but for an excellent initial save my Moore in the Ards goal followed up by a goal saving block by captain Michael Ruddy. Excellent defensive work but again highlighting just how fragile the lead is up until now. It was a tough period for Ards as Dergview threw everything at finding that equaliser, Jack Parke causing the problems again. His first effort was a cross come shot right into the danger area, Moore was a match for the first, coming off his line and punching clear. The ball landed back with Parke who this time looked to go long towards the back post, it seemed and easy clearance for Ards but they made a mess of it allowing the ball through to Diver. His initial control was good but his effort on goal was very much that of a centre half, Ards thankful that it didn’t fall to someone with an eye for goal, as he sent the ball high and wide of the target.

 

Ards finally put the game to bed in the last minute, Michael Ruddy putting the game beyond Dergview from the penalty spot after Ethan Taggart had been felled in the box. 2-0 the score, the finish in no doubt with Ruddy having been recently restored to spot kick duty, sliding it just past O’Gara into the corner of the net. It was a timely goal as Ards had found themselves pegged back a bit as Dergview raised their game. It certainly knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and the remaining 5 minutes of time added on passed by with little to no incident after which the ref brought the game to an end. 2-0 the final score and after a run of 14 league games without a win, Ards were finally back on a winning run. Michael Ruddy was named as MOTM for this one, one of several who could well have been in the frame.


Ards Captain Michael Ruddy named sponsors MOTM

 

Still in 10th, but now with a 5-point advantage over our basement playoff rivals, who do have a remaining game in hand to play before the split, which we will be keeping a very close eye on (H&W Welders travelling to Darragh Park on Tuesday night), so that gap may very well be reduced to 2 points making for an exciting ‘split’. With the 2 halves settled now Ards face tough away trips to Dergview, Ballinamallard and Knockbreda while we will host Newington and Ballyclare so still plenty more football to be played before this season is concluded. While we may know the opponents, we await fixture dates and details to know where or who we entertain next up.

 

 

Starting Line-up:

Moore, Ruddy, Arthur, McCart, Greer, Steele, Cafolla, Taggart, Hunter, Newell Miller

 

Substitutes:

Shields, Quinn, McCallum, Andrews, Halliday, Dougan, Keke

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