PLAYR-FIT Teamwear Championship.
Ards vs Ballinamallard.
Saturday 13th January at 3.00 p.m.
After the excitement of the coupon-busting Irish Cup win at Seaview last Saturday Ards return to the bread and butter of League action this week as they prepare for the second visit of Ballinamallard to Clandeboye Park this season. Previous games between the two teams are even as far as the League goes with a 1-1 draw at Ferney Park in October, when a 93rd minute Adam McCallum goal clinched a point for Ards, being followed by a 2-2 draw at Clandeboye on December 9th when another 93rd minute goal, this time from Ross Hunter secured a point for the Red and Blues. Bizarrely there was a League Cup tie, again at Ferney Park, a few days before the 1-1 draw which Ards won 5-1!
Last week's result, overseen by the duo of Daryl Phillips and Paul Kee following the departure of Matthew Tipton, will long be remembered by the sizeable Ards following that was there and was a very welcome diversion from League action, but the battle to get away from the bottom end of the League table begins against the Ducks who are currently just three points ahead of Ards, with a game in hand and a better goal difference. It would need a repeat of that four goal League Cup victory to see Ards overtake their opponents, but fans would settle for a victory of any kind to put distance between the Red and Blues and Dergview who currently occupy the relegation play off place, seven points behind Ards but with two games in hand.
It is hoped that Ards players will have recovered from the herculean effort last weekend, when players ran themselves to a standstill to earn the chance to win the tie on penalty kicks. The squad used last week is unlikely to change much, with Connor Maxwell a long term absentee and Eamon Scannell still under suspension, but there will no doubt be a different game plan so there may be changes to the starting eleven.
The contrast between the sides is interesting, Ballinamallard have scored just 30 goals in 22 League games, only the bottom two have scored fewer, while they have only conceded 27, the joint lowest with table topping Institute. Meanwhile Ards have conceded 45 and only last placed Knockbreda have conceded more, but they have scored a respectable 41 times.
Simon Warrington is the main goal threat for the visitors with seven to date, including both goals in the 2-2 draw in December, while Callum Dougan is top scorer for Ards with eleven so far. Including that 2-2 draw in December Ards have picked up just two points from their last five games, while the Ducks have managed seven points in their last five games, including a 3-0 win over Portadown, but as Ards proved last week they are capable of raising their game. Hopefully that defeat of the cup holders will signal a lift in confidence and begin a run of successful results that the team are more than capable of.
Match Sponsors :- John Ross and Son, Solicitors, High Street, Newtownards.
Ball Sponsor :- Maxol Service Station, Frances Street, Newtownards.
Referee :- Stuart Long.
1st Assistant :- Aaron Graham.
2nd Assistant :- Ethan Craig.