• Michael Barritt

Ards U18s 4 v 2 Cliftonville 

Our Under 18s bounced back from last Fridays disappointing defeat in the Harry Cavan Cup Semi Final to Institute with an impressive 4-2 victory against Cliftonville on Friday evening in the Under 18s NIFL Academy League. It looked to be a touch of deja vu as Ards found themselves 1-0 down inside ten minutes, a sloppy pass from the back gave Cliftonville the chance to capatialize, they did just that as a cross from the left was finished past keeper Ryan Dalzell. Ards bounced back midway through the half, an inch perfect Karl Hollywood delivery found the head of Stuart McKibbin who guided beyond the Reds keeper. Cliftonville enjoyed spells on the ball and looked to get it in behind quickly, the Ards defence dealt with the majority of balls through but unfortunately on the half hour mark the Belfast side went ahead once more, despite Dalzell’s efforts to prevent them initially the ball fell for a Cliftonville midfielder and he slotted home. Ards defender Stuart McKibbin thought he had scored a contender for goal of the season, his fantastic 45 yard strike coming off the crossbar and despite claims of it crossing the line, the referee wasn’t convinced as the Reds went in ahead at the break. Half Time Ards 1-2 Cliftonville. Following a half time chat the players came out the second period knowing they had to up their game and they did so immediately. A Hollywood cross in from the left led to a goalmouth scramble that seen James Watson bundle the ball across the line to level the scores. Ards in the driving seat from there as Watson made a number of great surging runs forward from deep and thought he had scored a second but the referee ruled it out. It wasn’t long after were Ards took the lead on the evening, another Hollywood ball into the box was finished off by forward Adam Munn. Watson had a great chance to give Ards a two goal cushion only to be denied by a great save from the Cliftonville keeper. With 15 minutes to go Ards did grab a fourth, Adam Munn with a fantastic 35 yard pile driver free kick that flew past the Cliftonville keeper and into the net. The reds huffed and puffed after that and put the Ards defence under loads of pressure in the final stages of the game, it became stretched as Ards looked to catch them on the break but there were no further goals in the game as Ards saw it to earn a good win against a side sitting 3rd in the table. With three games in 7 days for Ards, a win against Cliftonville has got them off to a great start as Glentoran travel to Londonderry Park on Wednesday evening. Full Time Ards 4-2 Cliftonville Man Of The Match James Watson Goals Stuart McKibbin James Watson Adam Munn x2 Starting XI - Dalzell (GK), McGirr, Keenan, McKibben, Duckett, Murray, Martin (C), Watson, MacDonald, Hollywood, Munn Substitutes - Macrory, McCann, Brownlee Managers Words: “A great win in the end against a very talented Cliftonville team. Great character shown by the players having been behind twice during the game. It gets the monkey off our back with it being the first time this season we have won a game after being behind. Very pleased with the players performances and application following last weeks Harry Cavan Cup defeat. They moved the ball about a lot quicker, created chances and mixed it up on the night. We have a busy week ahead with a game against Glentoran and then Warrenpoint. Hopefully we can have strong performances in both of them also”