Ards 3 v 0 Loughgall
John Bailie’s first home match as manager saw the visit of third placed Loughgall. Kym Nelson and TJ Murray returned to the starting eleven after completing their suspensions, while Dylan Wilson was fit enough to take a place on the bench. Ben Cushnie remained injured and Michael McLellan served his one game suspension. There was a perfectly observed one minute silence before the game to remember Chronicle journalist Jim Palmer who sadly passed away during the week. It didn’t take long for the home side to take the lead as in the 12th minute David McAllister’s corner wasn't cleared by the defence and Kym Nelson celebrated his return by opening the scoring with a close range strike. The next goal came in the 5 minutes before the interval when a Loughgall defender was judged to have handled the ball inside the area. Craig McMillen took the spot kick and coolly found the bottom left hand corner to make it 2-0. Then in the 43rd minute Eamon McAllister’s close range effort was just wide of the left hand post. The half ended 2-0, with neither side having created many chances. Loughgall perhaps had more possession but failed to trouble Neeson in the home goal, who didn't have a shot to save. At half time special guest Santa and injured Ben Cushnie made an appearance and handed out Mince Pies and Smarties to the Red and Blue Army. 7 minutes into the new half Loughgall had their first real chance of the game when Jordan Gibson’s free kick was just over the bar. Then, Nathaniel Ferris had his chance denied by Brian Neeson who made a straightforward save. As in the first half, Loughgall continued to have a fair share of possession but again failed to create any real chances. Ards got their third in injury time when Kyle Calderwood took advantage of Craig Smith’s mistake, with his super strike from outside the area finding the back of the net. The game ended shortly after, a more than satisfactory day for the Red and Blues as they recorded their second successive 3-0 win. Next up is a trip to Knockbreda on Boxing Day, when the squad should be on similar lines, although leading goalscorer Michael McLellan has completed his one match suspension and is eligible to return, while Craig Harris sits out having collected his fifth yellow card of the season. I would like to wish every reader a Merry Christmas!
Starting Eleven: Neeson, McMillan, Taylor, McGovern, Armstrong, Murray, Nelson, McMillen, Harris, D. McAllister and E. McAllister.
Used Substitutes: Wilson, Calderwood and Magee. Unused substitutes: Pollock and McConnell.
Yellow cards: Harris and McMillen.