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  • Writer's pictureMichael Barritt

Ballinamallard 1 Ards 5 – Match Report

BetMcLean Cup 1st Round – 03/10/23

By Phillip Bartlett

High Five for Ards 'Up West'

Ards cruise into the second round after five-star display

A short divergence for Ards as we switch focus, albeit temporarily, to the BetMcLean League Cup this week embarking on the first of 2 visits to Ferney Park within 5 days, a follow up league meeting scheduled for Saturday at 15:00 at the same venue. Ards were on the wrong end of a 1-0 result on our last trip to the Fermanagh side and fell to a heavy 4-1 defeat the time before that. Ferney Park has not been an easy place to go to and get any sort of result of late so Ards will be keen to make a statement before we come back and do it all again just a few short days later. Ards currently sit 2 places better off than their opponents with a 3-point advantage after 9 games but with both sides no doubt making several line-up changes, current form will be of no consequence in determining the outcome.

Ards Matt Gorman holding up Mallards Simon Warrington

Ards certainly rang the changes for this one with only 3 of the starting 11 having started the last game out at home to Portadown with Adam McCallum, Ethan Taggart and George Tipton running out in this one. Neil Shields is brought in between the sticks with a new look back three in front, Karl Hamill and Matt Gorman coming in to partner up alongside McCallum. James McLaughlin and Max Miller start in a new front pairing, both looking to make an impact and get themselves in the managers thoughts moving forward while across the middle Jallow, C Scannell and E Scannell come in to join Taggart and Tipton. Cut down bench tonight with Moore, Greer, Dougan, Steele and Hunter prepared to get involved if and when required. Not too many ex-Ards find themselves this far west, but I can confirm that ex-Ards loanee goalkeeper Jack Le-Moignan was on the bench for this one.

As close to a flawless performance as we have seen from Ards this season as they controlled and dominated the game from start to end. Bar a slight wobble early in the second half Ards were imperious throughout comfortably running out 5-1 winners when the final whistle went. 2 goals for Max Miller and 1 for Adam McCallum sent Ards into the break with a healthy 3-0 lead, the game almost over as a contest. Ballinamallard started well and hit back early in the second half, finally asking some questions, but Ards quickly regained their composure extending their lead further with goals from McLaughlin and lastly from the head of Karl Hamill. 5 was the final tally for Ards but it could have been higher if a few decisions had gone our way, Max Miller very unlucky to have missed out on grabbing his hattrick, which would have been well deserved. It was a remarkable showing, with everyone on the park playing their part in a memorable game for Ards.

Fast start by Ards catching Ballinamallard on the back foot as they raced into an early 2-0 lead, Max Miller grabbing both the early goals. The first came as early as the 4th minute, a really clean strike in the penalty area after controlling well, making himself some space before firing past Rea into the net. Just the start we were looking for on a miserable night after a long trip. There was better to come as Miller grabbed his and Ards second on 12’. This one a well-controlled header in the penalty box after some great work by Jallow wide right. Pinpoint cross from the Ards winger, great movement in the box by Miller followed by a well-placed header into the far corner, giving Rea no chance in the Mallards goal. 2-0 to the away side with less than 15 minutes on the clock.

Foul ref? No, nothing wrong with it, play on. Eamon Scannell working back to deny Mallards an attacking opportunity

It wasn’t all one-way traffic as the Mallards lifted themselves and pressed for a way back into the game but despite their efforts the Ards back line remained resolute and Shields had little to do in the first half. Darragh Byrne went as close as anyone in blue to testing the stand in Ards keeper when he managed to get the better of Hamill out on their right-hand side. He carried the ball into the box and with limited options in the middle opted to go for goal himself, but Shields had positioned himself well to smoother the ball.

On the stroke of half time Max Miller was presented with a brilliant chance to seal his hattrick and take the game further away from Ballinamallard, McLaughlin and Miller linking up well together. McLaughlin had the ball in the middle of the park and picked out Millers run with a perfectly weighted pass that cut through the Mallards backline. Miller looked favourite to get there first but the ball skipped off the wet surface and allowed Rea to gather before the Ards man could get a telling touch. Having just missed out on grabbing their 3rd of the half it looked like we would take a 2-goal advantage into the interval but in time added on Ards were awarded a free kick wide left. Eamon Scannell took the kick and delivered a dangerous ball into the box and Adam McCallum did the rest, getting on the end of it and firmly heading the ball into the back of the net.

3-0 the score and there was just time for the Mallards to restart the game before referee Buchanan brought the half to an end.

Ards made 1 change at the break as George Tipton’s night came to an end, being replaced by Aidan Steele in the middle of the park.

A bright start to the second half by the home side, Darragh Byrne going to close to pulling a goal back in the 47th minute. He actually had two chances to finish but some last ditch defending, and good goalkeeping kept him out. An early warning not heeded, and the Mallards did have a foot hold back in the game as they pulled a goal back on 55 minutes through Peter Maguire. It was a soft goal to concede, simple ball played into the box by Jamie Dunne from a free kick wide left. Despite being under pressure in the box Maguire was able to use his strength and power to reach the ball first and head the ball into the corner of the goal outside of the reach of Shields. Just the start the home side needed if they had any hopes of getting something from the game. Ards with something to think about after having things mostly their own way thus far.

Foul Ref? Conor Scannell put under pressure by Mallards captain John Edgar

On the hour mark the Mallards went close to reducing the deficit further but Ards eventually shovelled the ball clear through Jallow. The initial ball in from a Jamie Dunne corner was caught well by Shields who was clearly fouled as he came off his line. The ball dropped from his grasp in the middle of the area and all those in red and blue expected the whistle to go but the ref let play go on. It was a bit chaotic in the box, bodies flying everywhere but in the end Jallow emerged with the ball and Ards could relax. Still more danger signs in a game that Ards had dominated but a reminder of the need for care as we entered the last half hour.

Ards restored their 3-goal advantage just 5 mins later to finally put the game beyond the hosts, snuffing out any hope they may have had as James McLaughlin grabbed the 4th from the penalty spot after Jallow was scythed down by Johnston as he drove into the box. The ref given no choice but to point to the spot. 4-1 the score after McLaughlin slotted the ball into the left-hand corner of the goal. Rea beaten for the 4th time in the match. Karl Hamill was next to get in on the act as he grabbed the 5th and final goal of the game on 82’ getting on the end of a brilliant Conor Scannell corner ball. A superb header at the back post again Rea could only stand and watch as it sailed into the top corner of the goal. 5-1 the score with around 10 mins to go.

Scenes at the final whistle as Ards draw first blood in this double header

Ards could and very maybe well should have extended their lead further with Max Miller presented with several late chances to grab his hattrick. He really deserved it with the level of performance throughout the 90 but was denied twice by Rea as the Mallards keeper made some great saves having been left really exposed again and again by his back line. It finished 5-1 and it was a real statement performance by some of those that perhaps haven’t got the game time they would have hoped for. With a return to Ferney Park at the weekend and a return to Championship action, it certainly gives the manager plenty to think about and team news on Saturday will be very interesting indeed.

At the time of writing the draw for the second round has been completed and we will face Larne in a home fixture in the second round. A tough game but one we’ll really look forward to. Ballinamallard on the horizon again this weekend in the league as we face off in 3 different competitions in October, Glentoran the next visitors to Clandeboye Park in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday. Busy times but great for the team to be involved and getting games against teams of this stature and competing.

'Les Freres Heureux' Two happy Scannells after a job well done.

Starting Line-up:

Shields, McCallum, Hamill, Gorman, E Scannell, C Scannell, Jallow, Tipton, Taggart, Miller, McLaughlin


Moore, Greer, Steele, Dougan, Hunter

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