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  • Writer's pictureMichael Barritt

EXTRA TIME HEARTACHE FOR ARDS -

ARDS 2 V 4 BALLYMENA (AET 2-2 AFTER 90 MINUTES)


AFTER BATTLING BACK FROM TWO GOALS DOWN AGAINST PREMIERSHIP BALLYMENA AT CLANDEBOYE PARK ARDS EVENTUALLY LOST OUT IN EXTRA TIME TO EXIT THE LEAGUE CUP.

THE RED N BLUES CAN TAKE ALOT OF CONFIDENCE FROM THEIR SECOND HALF PERFORMANCE WITH EVERY PLAYER PUTTING IN A STRONG SHIFT AND TAKING THE GAME TO THEIR OPPONENTS. IT DIDN'T LOOK LIKE ARDS WOULD HAVE ANY CHANCE OF TAKING THE GAME THE DISTANCE IN THE FIRST HALF WITH BALLYMENA CONTROLLING THE MAJORITY OF THE PLAY WHILST ARDS SAT IN TRYING TO KEEP THINGS TIGHT.

AFTER ONLY 2 MINUTES BALLYMENA HIT THE BAR AFTER A CORNER REACHED THE UNMARKED MCDAID AT THE FAR POST BUT FOR THE FOLLOWING 15 MINUTES OR SO THERE WAS LITTLE TO TALK ABOUT WITH THE HOME TEAM DEALING REASONABLY WELL WITH ANY THREAT BALLYMENA POSED HOWEVER IT WAS A PROMISING ARDS MOVE THAT ACTUALLY LED TO THE OPENER FOR THE VISITORS. SOME GOOD PASSING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARK BROKE DOWN AFTER A POOR BALL BY REYNOLDS WAS SEIZED UPON BY BALLYMENA AND A QUICK BREAK DOWN THE LEFT EVENTUALLY FOUND MCDAID IN WHAT LOOKED TO BE AN OFFSIDE POSITION BUT THE REF WASN'T INTERESTED AND MCDAID SLAMMED THE BALL HOME FOR 0-1.

ARDS CONTINURD TO BATTLE BUT INDECISON IN THE FINAL THIRD WAS THEIR DOWNFALL WITH THE ONLY REAL OPPORTUNITY COMING AFTER THE IMPRESSIVE HUNTER WON THE BALL OUT WIDE AND CUT THE BALL BACK TO REYNOLDS WHO SCUFFED HIS EFFORT GIVING THE KEEPER AN EASY SAVE ,

BALLYMENA'S RIGHT BACK PLACE ALMOST SCORED A SPECTACULAR GOAL FROM AROUND 35 YARDS ABSOLUTLEY SMASHING THE BALL OF THE BAR WITH A FIERCE DRIVE . HOWEVER NOT TO BE UNDONE EX ARDS FAVOURITE JOSH KELLY LATCHED ONTO A POOR CLEARANCE AND DROVE THE BALL INTO THE TOP CORNER FOR 0-2 LEAVING ARDS WITH A MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB IN THE SECOND HALF .

CAFOLLA AND TAGGART WERE REPLACED AT THE START OF THE HALF KEEPING SATURDAY'S GAME IN MIND WITH THE PAIR HAVING ONLY RETURNED FROM INJURY AND ARDS TOOK THE GAME TO THE BRAIDMEN GAINING MORE OF THE BALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARK AND PUSHING FORWARD AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY . THEY SOON GOT THEIR REWARD WHEN SCANNELL OUT PACED THE BALLYMENA DEFENCE AND SUPERBLY LOBBED THE BALL OVER THE KEEPER TO GIVE ARDS A LIFE LINE .

THERE CERTAINLY WAS A SENSE THAT THE HOME TEAM COULD LEVEL MATTERS BUT IT TOOK UNTIL INJURY TIME FOR THE EQUALISER TO ARRIVE WHEN REYNOLDS ARRIVED AT THE BACK POST AFTER A CROSS BEAT EVERYONE ELSE HE DRILLED THE BALL HOME FOR 2-2 AND SENT THE GAME INTO EXTRA TIME .

ARDS HAD MADE SEVERAL CHANGES TO SAVE LEGS FOR SATURDAY WHICH ALLOWED BALLYMENA TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE AND THEY DIDN'T TAKE LONG TO ADD A THIRD GOAL WITH SEVERAL ARDS PLAYERS PLAYING IN UNFAMILAR POSITIONS STRUGGLING TO ADAPT IN THE EARLY PARTS OF EXTRA TIME ALTHOUGH AARON BROWN WAS VERY UNLUCK AFTER HE HIT THE BAR FROM 18 YARDS OUT

2-3 AT HT IN EXTRA TIME

. IT WAS SOON 4 AT THE START OF THE SECOND HALF OF ET WHEN PARKHOUSE WAS LEFT WITH A TAP IN BUT TO THEIR CREDIT ARDS KEPT PLUGGING AWAY CAUSING MOMENTS OF CONCERN . THE REFEREE THEN AWARDED BALLYMENA A VERY QUESTIONABLE PENALTY FOR HANDBALL PROMTING HOWLS OF DERISION FROM THE HOME SUPPORT ALTHOUGH JUSTICE WAS DONE WHEN MOORE GUESSED CORRECTLY SAVING WELL AND KEEPING SLIM HOPES ALIVE . BROWN AGAIN CAME AGONIISINGLY CLOSE AGAIN TO TRY AND REDUCE THE DEFECIT THE GAME HOWEVER ENDED 4-2 TO THE AWAY SIDE BUT ARDS CAN TAKE POSITIVES AND MOVE ON TO THE LEAGUE ENCOUNTER WITH THE MALLARDS ON SATURDAY WITH TJ MURRAY BEING NAMED MAN OF THE MATCH BY SPONSORS THE BOOTLEGGERS.



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