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Dundela 4 Ards 0 – Match Report

NIFL Playr-Fit Championship – 02/03/24

By Phillip Bartlett



Dundela pile yet more misery on the RABA with second half rout.



Ards’ record against todays hosts makes for great reading on paper, unbeaten in the last 7 and with 2 victories already this season, that should offer some hope to those travelling down the Newtownards Road but put in the context of the last 13 games, and the positions of the sides, I’m not sure that is the reality as we approach 15:00. Anything can happen in this league this season, we’ve seen it all before, none more so than the return fixture back in November when Ards ran out unlikely 4-0 winners against the top of the table side, our last league victory it has to be mentioned. Another result like that today would be very welcome as we enter our 14th game since we last tasted victory, but alas we go more in hope than expectation. Table toppers Dundela have recently learnt that despite finishing top they will not be permitted entrance to the IPL next season, that could cause them some distraction and allow Ards to capitalise, but the odds are heavily in their favour as they sit top of the table some 9 spots above Ards, 30 additional points and 3 wins from their last 4 games.

Dundela vs Ards at the Hen Run


Consistency in team selection seems to be a thing of the past for Ards as new manager John Bailie has to contend with injuries and suspensions while trying to identify his best starting 11. Having played a hard-fought mid-week game against Newington, unsurprisingly we have changes once again with 3 coming in and 3 going out. Adam McCallum, Michael Ruddy (c) and Ross Hunter are all drafted back into the starting lineup as we also opt for a change in formation to see if that can reap any rewards. Those to miss out Ryan Arthur, Matt Gorman and Lee Newall are on the bench as Ards revert to a back 4 with two orthodox full backs in Max Greer and Michael Ruddy as Neil Shields carries on between the sticks while Moore continues to recover from a shoulder injury. Ards have went with a 3 across the middle and 2 up top, while Scannell gets a free role just behind the strikers where he plays his best stuff. Ards are well represented in the opposition as well with ex defenders Michael Kerr and Jamie McGovern in the starting 11 and Jake Corbett also on the bench if required.


4-0 last time out, 4-0 this time out but with the roles reversed, the home side easily coming out on top after another Ards capitulation despite a somewhat solid opening. Having limited the hosts to a 1-0 lead at the interval it was a second half to forget as Ards seemingly forgot to come out after the break, a real disappointment having done well in the opening 45 to stifle and frustrate the Duns. A Charlie Dornan header was the difference between the sides in the first half, but the Duns stepped it up a notch after the restart, ably assisted by drop off from those in red and blue, to race into a 3-0 lead after only 10 second half minutes, before the returning Jordan Jenkins finished the scoring on 83’, condemning Ards to their 11th defeat in 14 games. Already 3 goals down Ards’ task was made nigh on impossible after Eamon Scannell was shown a straight red card on the hour mark for a late, high challenge in the middle of the park. Right or wrong, it left Ards with a huge mountain to climb and took all the pressure off the hosts. 4-0 the final score, the Duns consolidating their position at the top of tree as we approach the league split.

Ards Adam McCallum brought back into the starting lineup

The game started with some measure of optimism for the travelling fans and the opening 10 or 15 minutes did nothing to dampen that, Ards on the front foot and looking to attack the Duns back line whenever possible. On the flip side Duns failed to get much purchase up top in those opening stages as they tried to work their way into the game. Ards went within a couple of inches of taking the lead with just 2’ minutes on the click, Ross Hunter watching on as his effort came back off the post and out for a Duns ball. Hunter caught the Duns napping early on nipping between the defence and latching onto a through ball, McClurg was forced off his line and did well to push Hunter wide of the goal before retreating back to his line. Hunter looked to take advantage by lifting it over the keeper as he moved backwards but was unable to find the target. It was a clever effort as he also managed to lift it over McGovern who had dropped to the line to clear but the post got in the way. Ards kept the early pressure up earning themselves a couple of corners, but they were unable to make the most of them.


As we have seen all to often, despite being on top Ards have a knack of switching off and allowing the opposition to seize the momentum and that is exactly what happened after 15 minutes the Duns taking the lead when Charlie Dornan was able to lose Cafolla in the box to head in David McMasters’ corner from 4 yards out. Simple ball in, simple bit of movement in the box, simple headed finish and nothing Sheilds could do with it being so close to goal. Dundela 1-0 after 15’. The Duns were clearly lifted by the goal and continued to press Ards, creating several decent chances but failing to really test Sheilds again despite McMaster delivering the ball into dangerous areas on several occasions as the Ards defence stood firm.


Neither keeper was really tested again as the half went on, most of game being contested in the middle of the park, and it finished 1-0 to the hosts at the break. The closest we got to a second goal was for the visitors, Odhran McCart missing out by small margins at the back post following a flick on by Ross Hunter around the penalty spot. It was a great attacking run by the Ards centre half, but even at full stretch he just missed the ball with McClurg struggling across his goal mouth. 1-0 the score as half time was called.

Ross Hunter protecting the ball under pressure from Jake Corbett


No changes for Ards at the break, the same 11 take to the field after the interval. Ards get the game going looking to start where they left off at the end of the first half.


Having been relatively happy at how the 1st half unfolded, Ards fans thoroughly believing they were still very much in this game, there were early danger signs as the Duns should really have been 2-0 up within seconds of the restart. A simple ball played over the top, Ewan Kelly was allowed acres of space and all the time in the world in the Ards box to finish, but fortunately was unable to find the back of the net, Sheilds staying big and eventually making a good save getting down to his left. Ards minds clearly still in the changing room and not on the game post restart. Back-to-back corners followed the early chance, Ards doing just enough to scramble them clear from goal as the Duns continued to press. It wasn’t long before that pressure told, the Duns grabbing their 2nd of the game on 52’ as once again Ards switched off giving them all the encouragement they needed. Kelly the creator down the left as he burst down the line, Greer looked to have done enough to get back at him and prevent the corner but was unable to complete his clearance, Kelly taking advantage hitting a hard and low ball across goal. Ards had plenty of bodies in the box but once again they had switched off, perhaps believing that Greer had prevented the cross. Either way, McMaster hadn’t given it up and gambled that the ball would come in making for the easiest of finishes with the outside of the boot from around 6 yards out. Again, Sheilds left exposed, nothing the Ards keeper could do to prevent that. 2-0 to the Duns shortly after the break.


No sooner had the game restarted than Ards were effectively out of it, 3-0 to the hosts Mark Patton with a great curling finish from well outside the box on 55’. Under no pressure whatsoever the Duns wide man was able to set himself, pick his spot and bend it round the keeper into the back of the net. It was a great strike, but he had the freedom of the park as Ards players once again were nowhere to be seen and it was effectively game over. 3-0 within 10 minutes of the second half, long way back for Ards now.


A hard task soon became an impossible task just 5 minutes later as Eamon Scannell was shown a straight red card for a late, high challenge in the middle of the park. You could feel the frustration on the pitch and around those away fans that had travelled, Ards having to battle for another 30 minutes now 3 goals down and down to 10 men to boot.

Aidan Steele trying to get Ards up the pitch late on


To be fair to Ards they did dig in at the back to prevent the score from getting any worse, both Patton and McMaster being denied by good work in defence. The Duns made a quadruple change with 20 mins to go, confident that the result was beyond question now and it was two of those subs that combined on 83’ to extend their lead even further, Jordan Jenkins latching on to a Jay Magee flick on from a Casey Smyth corner from the left. Sheilds tried to get across to deny the effort but was unable to make the ground, a simple finish at the back post condemning Ards to yet another humiliating defeat. The ref played an additional 3 mins of time added on before putting Ards out of their misery yet again. 4-0 the final score, something that would have seemed unlikely at half time Ards having gave a decent account of themselves. Same old mistakes and lack of concentration again costing Ards in a very poor second half.

After that result we remain 10th in the league on 26 points with our nearest basement rivals Dergview on 22 but now with 3 games in hand with this weekend’s fixture being postponed once again due to issues with the pitch. Ards now have a break until their next game, missing the next 2 Saturdays as other sides catch up before the split, so time to hopefully put some work in on training before getting back in. The small matter of Portadown up next as they travel to Clandeboye Park on Tuesday 19th of March. Ards could very well find themselves in the precarious position of the relegation playoff spot before we next kick a ball as Dergview will have played some or all of their games in hand before that date. An unthinkable situation at the start of the season but one that has now become a very real proposition indeed.



Starting Line-up:

Shields, Ruddy, McCallum, McCart, Steele, Cafolla, E Scannell, Taggart, Greer, Hunter, Dougan



Gibbons, Gorman, Miller, Keke, Newell, Arthur, Quinn


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