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  • Writer's pictureMichael Barritt

Ards come ‘un-Dun’ once again….

Dundela 3 Ards 2

Irish Cup, round 1 – 08/01/22

Ards returned to action today in the Irish cup after a short break with their last league outing against Loughgall being postponed due to Covid cases and restrictions affecting both sides. The tie initially saw Ards drawn at home but as Bangor were drawn at home to face Larne, the tie was switched to Wilgar Park. Ards have already met the Duns twice this season in league action with each side running out home winners.

Ards went into the game with Kym Nelson missing through suspension and Daniel Reynolds unavailable through injury. Most notable on the team sheet was the inclusion of both of Ards’ new signings, Joe Tully and Gary Donnelly, on the bench.

Finishing 3-2 to the home side, it would be understandable for those who didn’t attend the game to believe it was a tightly contested affair, but unfortunately that was not the case as two late goals from Ards made the score line much more flattering than ultimately deserved. Leading 3-0 with only 3 mins to go plus time added on, Dundela managed to give Ards a glimmer of a chance, despite having limited chances and any real impact on the game for the first 87 minutes.

Dundela bossed the first half, scoring on 15’ and 31’, and missing several other great chances to extend that lead further while Ards, who offered very little across the pitch, only managed a couple of half chances. The first goal, while contentious, was no more than the Duns deserved following their good start. A disputed freekick taken by Kane, deflected off the wall and fell perfectly for an unmarked Magee to head easily past Bam in the middle of the goal. Guilluame Keke came back to haunt Ards on 31’ with a well-placed finish from distance. The ex-Ards man robbed O’Hare of the ball just inside the Ards half, headed straight for goal and fired into the bottom corner. While Bam managed to get something on it, it wasn’t enough to turn it round the post and Ards found themselves 2-0 down. On reflection he probably should have done better with the shot being so far out from goal.

Ards offered very little in an attacking threat through the half mustering a few half chances. McCurry had Ards best chance of the half from a brilliant through ball from McGovern, McCurry latched on to it and flashed a well struck shot just over the bar. Scannell and Young both had freekicks in dangerous positions just outside the box, Scannell put his effort round the assembled wall, but it didn’t trouble Matthews in the Duns goal as he easily gathered. There was however a moment of panic and some frantic back-peddling for the Dundela keeper following Youngs freekick. It cannoned off the wall, looped straight up towards the Duns goal but much to the travelling fans dismay it fell narrowly on the wrong side of the net.

Ards made a triple substitution at the break and introduced a change in formation to try and get back into the game. Ferrin, McGrandles and new signing Joe Tully came into the fray, replacing O’Hare, Jallow and Arthurs. Despite the changes, and the much more positive formation, the second half went much the same as the first with Ards struggling to put together any meaningful play. Dundela were still on the front foot and were bewildered at not having extended their lead in the first couple of minutes of the second half. Confusion in the box from an early second half corner gave the Duns several opportunities to scramble a third but some last-ditch blocks from Ards allowed Bam to eventually claim the ball and snuff out the danger.

The Ards shot stopper was called into action again on 60’ making a smart save as Dundela played the ball into the box. Ards finally seemed to get some rhythm going and managed to hold on to the ball for extended periods in the opposition half, but the final ball was lacking, and the Duns keeper Matthews remained relatively untroubled. The final nail in Ards cup coffin came on 83’ when Dundela took a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead with Rhys Annett grabbing a goal having recently being subbed on. A miss hit shot from Fearon ricocheted off James Ferrin and fell kindly for Annett who scooped it over the approaching Bam into the back of the net.

Ards did manage to register two goals with Scannell and new signing Donnelly finding the back of the net. Great work from Donnelly to protect the ball, he then laid it off to Scannell who’s well hit shot from 25 yards out, looped over Matthew’s high into the net. There was little celebration after the goal, but with 3 + time added on, it offered Ards a slim chance to get back into the match. The second Ards goal, from new signing Donnelly, was a similar finish from a freekick some 30 yards from goal, hit high over the keepers’ head and into the back of the net. Score line was now 3-2, but there was no time left for Ards to push on again as the ref blew the final whistle after the restart.

Matthews will be disappointed to have been beaten in such fashion twice towards the end, but they were both very well struck efforts. It did flatter Ards a lot and won’t have done much to console the travelling fans who were very expectant for an Ards win and progression into the next round of the cup. It was a really under-par performance from the team today who can’t seem to find the answers at the minute.

We can argue that promotion is all that counts this season so not much has been lost today but the manner of the defeat, and the overall performance, will be of concern to the supporters as we return to Clandeboye Park next week to again face todays opponents Dundela in league action. Ards are currently 5th and the Duns sit in 10th in the league but as todays game has shown, league position counts for very little and Ards will be in for another very tough game.

With the transfer window still open there is hope some more business might be done, alongside the two boys who both made their debuts in todays game. Tully showed he has a bit about him up top, holding the ball up and bringing others into play, and Donnelly hit a brilliant freekick to score on debut so it will be interesting to see how they fit in to the team moving forward.

Starting eleven:

Neeson, Dinu, McGovern, O’Hare, Young, Scannell, Cafolla, Murray, Jallow, Arthurs and McCurry

Subs used:

Ferrin, McGrandles, Tully, Donnelly

Subs not used:

O’Kane, E McAllister, Crane

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