Ards 5 (five) Ballyclare 0 - Match Report
NIFL Championship – 05/03/22
By Phillip Bartlett
High five for Ards as they stroll out ‘Clare’ winners
Short trip across the A21 for this one following several long-distance trips out west as we welcomed Ballyclare to Clandeboye Park. Ards definitely hold the upper hand over Ballyclare this season having won the previous two meetings with an aggregate score of 7-2. That, coupled with ‘Clare’ sitting in 9th place some 9 points behind Ards, there was reason to be positive for the RABA before kickoff. This one marked the start of an important run of games as we near the ‘split’, with Dergview hot on our heels and a game in hand so it was important that we put in a performance with a tough trip to Newry on the horizon next week.
The changes were rung in for this one with a different look to the back line and a very attacking 1433 formation. The intent from the start was to take the game to Ballyclare and that’s exactly what the boys did. A new centre half pairing of Calderwood and Crane were supported by Young and Dinu in the fullback positions. With McGovern on the bench Ross Arthurs was named as captain and was leading the attack with Reynolds and McAllister either side. TJ Murray was named on the bench after a lengthy spell out through injury.
It really was a perfect day all round, excellent weather for football and a brilliant performance from everyone in red and blue. The game finished 5-0 but could well have been more as Ards finally found that clinical edge that has been missing of late. Ballyclare rarely threatened in what was a very one-sided game, something that really pleased the home support and a performance we have been waiting on for some time. There were excellent performances all over the park but once again that man DeeDee stood out grabbing 2 excellent goals and putting the game beyond the visitors reach.
Both teams had early chances to open the scoring, Ballyclare probably with the best of them on 6’ when Mooney was through one-on-one with Bam. He tried to slot it in the left of the net but Bam read it and made a brilliant save to get it round the post. Close call for Ards early on. Ballyclare had another couple of chances gifted to them, again Bam proving unbeatable on the day giving Ards a platform to build on at the other end. The opening goal came on 16’ when DeeDee played a brilliant ball over the top of the Clare defence, Arthurs calmly took the ball out of the air, once touch to get it out of his feet and finally poked it past Ferguson in the Ballyclare goal. A great goal for the captain for today and probably a relieved Arthurs who had missed what most would have thought was an easier chance just a few minutes before.
Ards kicked on from that and there was further delight when Reynolds got in on the act. His performances of late have been excellent but just missing that all important goal. The second goal came on 34’ mins following sustained Ards pressure. Cafolla’s corner from the left was flicked on at the near post by McGrandles and well controlled and finished by Reynolds at the back post. There was suspicion of handball as Reynolds controlled but the officials awarded the goal, Ards leading 2-0. With the score at 2-0 Ballyclare had an excellent chance to get back into the game but a brilliant block from Young averted the danger. Great work by the full back but it was bettered just a minute later as Bam pulled off yet another fantastic save getting down quick to his right to gather the ball from Whiteside’s snapshot from around 12 yards out.
There was more to cheer about for Ards just before the half time whistle as DeeDee got is first of the game on 44’ extending Ards lead to 3-0. Young with the throw in high up in the Ballyclare half, Reynolds takes it to the byline and cuts it back across goal finding DeeDee who’d timed his run perfectly to tap in at the back post. Great team goal and a good finish, well deserved for Ards number 10. The game was pretty much over as a contest as the halftime whistle went but nobody was taking anything for granted in this one.
The half finished 3-0 to Ards, a score line that in no way flattered Ards after and excellent half of football.
The second half, if it was possible, was even more one sided than the first. Ballyclare had decent possession in the early stages as Ards sat back and tried to control the game, but they did very little with it and Bam was left relatively untroubled throughout the second 45. After Ards weathered that initial flurry from Ballyclare they were able to move through the lines with ease, the surprising thing being that we only grabbed 2 additional goals in the half. DeeDee popped up with Ards 4th goal and his 2nd of the game on 79’. Great work by Salou down the right, his cross was flashed across goal to Scannell, who either missed the ball completely or played a great dummy allowing it through to DD who got a bit fortunate with the finish. He controlled the ball and cut inside his marker, the shot was on target but looked a routine save for Ferguson until it took a glance off the centre halfs head, taking it past the keeper who had no chance following the deflection.
Scannell completed the scoring on 85’ when he met Igiehon’s attempted effort at the back post and tapped it in. Having shrugged off his marker, using his obvious strength, it looked like the big number 16s shot was on target and heading for the back of the net before Scannell intervened, but I’ve been assured it was running wide and needed the touch. A great run to the back post by Scannell and he’ll struggle to get an easier finish all season.
Finishing 5-0 it was no more than what we deserved, everyone worked their socks off and really capitalised on every opportunity to score. Something the crowd have been crying out for with Ards being wasteful with the chances they have created in recent games. The clean sheet will also be really welcomed by everyone, having not done so since back in November when we beat Institute 3-0 at the Brandywell. It validated the defensive changes on the day and will certainly give new boss Tipton something to think about as we move forward. An excellent day, excellent result and sets the rest of the weekend up brilliantly. Football Saturdays…. 😉
Next up is the long trip to title favourites Newry. While Ards chances of a promotion spot are slim to nil, there will be some playing for pride and hopefully with renewed confidence following this performance. Ards desperately need to remain in the top half of the table and get as many points on the board as possible and see where it takes us at the end of the season. It’s been tough to find the answers, but yesterday’s result was a sign of what we can do, hopefully there is more to come in the remaining games of the season.
Neeson, Dinu, Crane, Calderwood, Young, McGrandles (45), Cafolla, Donnelly, McAllister, Arthurs (58), Reynolds (76
Lemoignan, McGovern, Murray, Tully, Jallow (45), Igiehon (58), Scannell (76)