Lough 41 Championship.
Harland and Wolff Welders vs Ards.
Saturday 26th March at 3.00 p.m.
Ards travel to their nearest rivals geographically to play what is the most important game of the season so far. It boils down to one simple fact, thanks to a superior goal difference, Ards need a point to be sure of staying in the top six, a defeat for Ards and a win for Dergview at Ballinamallard means the Red and Blues play the rest of the season in the bottom six with only one home game to come. A top six finish will mean four more home games and a chance, even if it's only mathematical, of finishing runner up at the end of this topsy-turvy season. Ards need to decide their own fate as they can't afford to rely on Ballinamallard beating Dergview as they have lost three of the last five games, whereas Dergview have only lost once in the same period.
Ards are inconsistent and have been for some time, but they have picked up eight points in the last five games with only the heavy defeat at Newry stopping an unbeaten run in that time. Two five goal victories in that sequence might sound good, but putting that in perspective those wins were against Ballyclare Comrades and Knockbreda, both teams that were experiencing poor runs at the time. The Welders have themselves suffered a dip in form and have lost three of their last four games, all at home, at the hands of Dergview, Dundela and Loughgall, in fairness those three teams have had the better of the encounters with Ards this season so far.
A win on Saturday would not only cement the top six placing, it would also put Ards up to fifth place, ahead of the Welders on goal difference. Honours between the teams are even so far, with an early season 1-0 win for Ards in Bangor being cancelled out by a 2-1 victory for the home side when Ards took their first trip to the Welder's impressive new stadium in December.
Team selection will be crucial, Kyle Calderwood will come back into contention having completed his suspension and with the injury to Conall Young forcing him to be replaced at half time last week, Ards finished the game with a full back pairing of T.J. Murray and Eamon Scannell, not an obvious choice to most fans pre match! Whatever the starting eleven, the players and management know the importance of this fixture and would appreciate a good turn out of fans to cheer the team on.
The PASC bus will leave the Social Club/Gibson's Lane at 2.15 p.m. All supporters are welcome.
Match Officials -
Referee - Peter McGrath
1st Assistant - Brian Wilson.
2nd Assistant - Richard Hegarty