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Ards 2 v 0 Queens

NIFL Championship – 16/10/21

A pair of Scannell aces, beats Queens

After last week’s excitement the ‘top vs bottom’ clash saw Ards run out worthy winners, but it was far from straight forward. Heading into the game with a 100% home record, Ards continued that run and retained their slender lead at the top of the Championship with Newry also winning. There were three changes to last weeks starting line-up with Conal Young, TJ Murray and Ross Arthurs coming back in into the starting line-up. Eamon McAllister was back on the bench after a lengthy spell on the side-lines through injury and his return to the field in the 79th minute was well applauded by the Ards fans.

Eamon Scannell scored in both halves to ensure Ards kept their recent good run going but it could have, and probably should have, been much more comfortable. Ards dominated the game from the off and within the first 15 minutes could have been three goals up with McGrandles, TJ and Jallow all having great chances in front of goal. Some great saves by the former Ards goalkeeper Devine however kept it 0-0 until deep into the first half. After the initial spell of pressure, the game settled down with Queens getting their foot on the ball and making it more of a contest with the Ards fans now wondering if they would rue those early missed chances.

The deadlock was finally broken on 43’ when Jallow collected the ball in the Ards attacking half, rode the challenge from the Queens defender and laid the ball off to Scannell who’s fantastic touch to take the ball beyond the shadowing defender was only bettered by his finish into the far corner. After Devine’s earlier heroics he could only watch as the ball found its way into the back of the net.

As the halftime whistle came the home fans were relieved that the efforts in the half did not go unrewarded with many questioning what might have been following the early pressure and chances created.

In the second half Queens started the stronger with Ards seemingly still sleeping after the break. While they failed to really trouble Bam in the Ards goal, they piled on the pressure, winning corners and freekicks in dangerous areas. On 56’ however Queens’ chances of getting something from the game took a blow when a penalty was awarded after TJ was sent tumbling in the box. With no attempt made to play the ball the Queens player was also shown a red card.

Scannell stepped up to take the penalty, full of confidence after scoring the opening goal, but his spot-kick was saved well by Devine. Somewhat fortuitously the second ball fell to Scannell, and he was able to lift it over the sprawling keeper and put it into the roof of the net to give Ards a 2-0 lead.

A minute later the 2-goal hero had his head in his hands as he saw his well struck shot come back off the post, denying him what would have been a well-deserved hattrick.

With an extra man and a 2 goal lead it was then about game management for Ards and ensuring there were no mistakes. The home side were patient with their build up play and continued to create chances, with Youngs’ effort from just outside the box hitting both the crossbar and post before being cleared by the Queens’ defence. There were further close calls for TJ, who put his freekick over the bar and McCurry whose snapshot from Youngs cross was put just wide of the post.

Ards continued to dominate possession and made good use of their subs to freshen the legs and see out the game with one additional minute added by the referee, earning John Bailies’ team another valuable 3 points. Focus now switches to next week’s away fixture to Loughgall. No surprise to those in attendance, the sponsors Man of the Match award was given to Eamon Scannell for his brace and all-round top performance today.

Starting eleven:

Neeson, Dinu, McGrandles, O’Hare, Young, Jallow, TJ Murray, Cafolla, Scannell, Arthurs, McCurry

Subs used:

Nelson, E McAllister, McMillen, O’Kane, Calderwood

Subs not used:

Carry, Glover

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