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  • Writer's pictureStuart Dellow


Lough 41 Championship.

Ards vs Loughgall.

Clandeboye Park.

Saturday 18th February at 3.00 p.m.

No Ards fan of a sound mind would have chosen Loughgall as opposition this weekend. One look at the stats makes it clear that an Ards side struggling for points couldn't be facing any challenge more difficult than the current league leaders who after a brief dip in form, by their high standards, appear to be back to their best.

Loughgall have the most potent attack in the league with 55 scored so far, they also have the tightest defence with only 16 conceded in 27 games. That dip in form, when they only won one game in seven has been forgotten as they won their last four, including a convincing 3-1 win against promotion contenders Warrenpoint on Tuesday night. The loss of leading scorer Nedas Maciulaitis to Carrick Rangers in the January transfer window doesn't appear to have affected their scoring prowess with eight in the last two games. Given that the two fixtures with Ards so far this season ended with an 11-1 aggregate score in favour of Loughgall, the odds understandably are heavily in favour of the visitors.

Ards are in the doldrums, two points from the last 21 available is relegation form and it is only some good early season results that have kept them, so far, in the top half of the table. After Loughgall there are back to back away fixtures to a recently resurgent Dergview and a home game against second placed Annagh United, so any points gained will be hard won, failure to pick up points somewhere in that run will almost certainly mean a drop into the bottom half of the table with the split imminent, not a situation that was envisaged at the start of the season!

Will the manager start with Dee Dee McAllister and Salou Jallow as he did in the at times encouraging but ultimately disappointing 3-2 defeat at Ballyclare on Tuesday, or will he adopt a more defensive approach? A straw poll of fans felt that Ards were better to watch going forward against Ballyclare but defensive failings cost them the points and in truth Alex Moore had to make several good saves to keep the result in doubt until the last minute. Will Johnny Taylor be recalled if Greg Hall doesn't recover in time? T.J.Murray, who replaced the injured Hall at half time on Tuesday picked up a yellow card, his fifth of the season so will be suspended for this game.

Match Sponsor :- Jason McCullough in memory of Harold Black.

Ball Sponsor :- J. McDonald, Florist, High Street, Newtownards.

Match Officials :-

Referee :- Shane McGonigle.

1st Assistant :- Richard Hegarty.

2nd Assistant :- Octavian George Neacsu.

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