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  • Writer's pictureStuart Dellow

Cliftonville 3 - 2 Ards

Ards travelled to Solitude on Monday night for their biggest pre-season test so far. There was a sizeable crowd to see the game, which was the first to be played on Cliftonville's new pitch. With the start of the competitive season imminent, both managers fielded strong starting elevens for this friendly encounter.

Ards were first to strike after three minutes when after a good cross from the left by Crane, Daniel Reynolds converted smartly at the near post, following on from his brace against Donegal Celtic at the weekend. It was turning into a well contested game and Ards were holding their own although the home side shaded the possession stats. In spite of the best efforts of both sides there were no clear cut chances and the main talking point was the floodlights going off after about 15 minutes. They remained off for the remainder of the first half.

Cliftonville equalised when a free kick from the left was headed clear but went straight to Chris Curran who picked his spot and finished well from the edge of the box after 23 minutes. The home side took the lead a few minutes later when Ards lost the ball in midfield, a quick break found Joe Gormley in space and he finished confidently to make it 2-1. Neeson was then called to action twice in a few minutes and made good saves as the home side threatened to score a third. However Ards kept their shape and resisted the pressure from the home side until half time.

In the second half, with the lights back on, Cliftonville again started brightly and after just five minutes play new signing Jamie McDonagh put the home side 3-1 up after an incisive move, although there was a hint of offside. Ards continued to battle and John Baillie utilised his panel to the full bringing on all his substitutes at different stages in the game. Neeson had a good game in the Ards goal and made another couple of saves as the Reds looked to clinch the win. However Ards were resolute and continued to probe, with a couple of half chances just needing the final touch. They got their reward with a couple of minutes to go when second half sub Darius Roohi found some space in the penalty area and stroked a low shot into the corner of the net from about ten yards.

All in all a good workout for Ards and a creditable result and performance.

Starting eleven : Neeson, Young, McGovern, Ferrin, Crane, E.McAllister, Nelson, McGrandles, Scannell, Arthurs and Reynolds.

Substitutes : Calderwood, Glover, Jallow, O'Kane, Dinu, Cafolla, Magee and Roohi.

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