• Jana McCabe

Match Report: Ballymena 4 - Ards 1

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

After last gasp agony for Ards last weekend, the Red and Blues travelled to Ballymena in search of much-needed points against the high-flying Sky Blues. Overnight rain necessitated a pitch inspection before kick-off, with the battered Ballymena pitch playable, but in difficult conditions.

It only took three minutes for the home side to open the scoring when, after a penalty appeal was waved away, Cathair Friel’s strong strike inside the box found the back of the net. Six minutes in, Andrew McGrory’s free kick from a dangerous position was just wide of the left hand post before, in the tenth minute, David McAllister’s pass found Gareth Tommons but his volley was off target.

Ballymena scored their second with fourteen minutes gone when Ards keeper Sam Johnston misjudged the pace of the ball and left Adam Lecky an empty net which he took advantage of to make it 2-0 .

In the seventeenth minute Darren Henderson’s shot from a Tommons corner struck the crossbar to the gasps of the Red and Blue Army. Ballymena then had a goal disallowed in the twenty fifty minute as poor defending by Daryl Evans gave Leroy Millar an unmissable chance which was thankfully ruled out.

In the twenty seventh minute Callum Byers' header from another Tommons corner was saved by the Sky Blue keeper, Ross Glendinning. Kim Nelson’s freekick from outside the box was then well saved by Glendinning as Ards looked for a way back in to the game.

Ards did get one back before the break as, in first half stoppage time, Johnston’s free kick found Darren Henderson and his well-placed header found the top corner of the net to make it 2-1, with the first half ending seconds later.

However the good end to the first half was quickly followed by a disappointing start to the second half for Ards when Friel’s pass found fellow goal-scorer Lecky whose shot could have been cleared by the Ards defence but instead they helped it into the back of the net to make it 3-1 in the forty sixth minute.

Stephen McCullough’s pass found James Knowles in the forty eighth minute but his header was off target, before Friel’s close-range strike was well saved by Sam Johnston in the sixty fourth minute and, shortly afterwards, Millar’s volley skimmed the bar as Ballymena looked for a fourth.