Lough 41 Championship.
Ards vs Annagh United.
Friday 21st January at 8.00 p.m.
Friday night football returns to Clandeboye Park as Ards look to reverse the run of poor results that has seen them slip from a brief spell as table-toppers early in the season down to sixth place in the standings. That run has seen the Red and Blues only gain nine points from the last eleven League games, a sequence that, had it not been for the impressive start to the season, would have had them more worried about relegation than promotion.
However, the league table is still tight with several teams in contention for the play off spot, or even the automatic promotion place, as current leaders Newry seem to be as prone to inconsistency as their rivals. Annagh who sit third on 41 points, are only four points ahead of Ards who can't afford to keep dropping points if they are to get back in the promotion race.
Ards did win the first encounter between the teams, with a 3-2 comeback success on the opening day of the season, thanks to a couple of goals from Patrick Cafolla in a game played in difficult conditions. Annagh are a good side, with three wins from their last four games, the same number of points as Ards have gathered in their last eleven games and possess a real goal threat, having scored 46 times in the league so far, a total only bettered by Ballinamallard. Ards have shown themselves to be vulnerable in defence recently and will have to be on form to keep out Stephen Murray and co.
John Bailie's team selection is not straightforward, he has lost TJ Murray for several weeks after TJ sustained a fractured cheekbone in last week's clash with Dundela. Also missing will be the hard working Eamon Scannell who is unwell, but on a more positive note new signing Benny Igiehon, who has been in prolific form for Dergview this season, is eligible to play and another recent signing, Joe Tully is also available after missing last week. Jack Lemoignan, who has joined on loan from Derry City this week will be added to the panel and the ambitious 21 year old will no doubt want to be pushing Brian Neeson for the starting spot.
Match Sponsor - Freemans Fuels, Portaferry Road. Newtownards.
Ball Sponsors - Albert Boal Quality Butchers, Movilla Road, Newtownards.
Match Officials -
Referee - Evan Boyce.
1st Assistant - Kristian Hanna.
2nd Assistant - Jamie Patterson.