Our Under 18s travelled to Lurgan Junior High on Friday evening to face a Glenavon U18 side with their 1st team manager Gary Hamilton in the dugout.
Having gone the month of October unbeaten with 3 wins and 1 draw, Ards went into this game with full confidence. Despite missing September Player of the Month Marc McCann through injury and last seasons Managers Player of the Year Jonny Murray through suspension, Ards welcomed new arrival James Watson from Crusaders into the squad as he made a start on his debut.
On a frosty artificial pitch, Ards knew they needed to have good control and stick to their short passing game to stand any chance of creating opportunities, they had a number early on when John Joe MacDonald galloped down the left hand side and fizzed a number of inviting crosses into the box but none that were capitalised early on. Karl Martin & Nathan Johnston both had shots from distance sail just wide before Kelvin Brownlee opened the scoring, MacDonalds cross this time finished off by the midfielder grabbing his first goal off the season. The first half was very limited in terms of real clear cut chances despite Ards having most of the possession, Glenavon were a threat on the counter attack but the Ards defence of McGirr, Macrory, Keenan, Magee and keeper Kinnear kept it at 1-0.
Glenavon 0-1 Ards
After a half time chat, the second goal in this game was going to be crucial, Glenavon were well in it and came out the quicker of the two sides coming close and kept the pressure on with a number of set pieces. However Ards managed to find that second goal from man Karl Hollywood scoring his 11th of the season latching onto the end of an Aaron Macrory ball forward, he raced through and scored past the Glenavon keeper. Ards were in full control after this and despite a penalty appeal waved away on the hour mark, they were awarded one 5 minutes later following good play down the left hand side starting with Tomas McDonnell before Hollywood fouled. He stepped up to convert keeping maintaining his 100% record from the spot making it 3-0.
Ards could have scored a couple more late on in the game as Young, McGirr and McDonald all came close but the score stayed the same as they come up the road with all 3 points.
Full Time Score
Glenavon 0-3 Ards
Karl Hollywood 2
Man Of The Match
Starting XI - Kinnear (GK), McGirr, Macrory (C), Kinnear, Mage, Brownlee, Watson, Martin, Johnston, MacDonald, Hollywood
Substitutes - Moody (GK), Armstrong, Young, McDonnell
Managers Words “Following a weeks break and most importantly recovery following a tough run of games, the boys didn’t show any sign of rustiness, if anything it reenergised them. They put the pressure on from the first minute and played some lovely football in certain areas of the pitch creating chances in abundance. Both centre backs had to deal with 2 good and strong forwards on the night, something that doesn’t happen very often as teams in this league tend to play with 1 striker. Again our squad was rotated and some players moved to ‘unnatural’ positions and again credit to them they listened to coaching staff and done what was asked from them. We can’t ask for any more than that, all contributed on the night. We welcomed James Watson into the team tonight who had a fantastic debut, having not played a lot this season he came in and got 60 minutes of game time that’ll only improve his understanding as the season progresses. Mention also to Jacob Duckett who has started for our U20s side in their last 5 games. Jacob started this season with the U18s having progressed from the U16s last year and is now a regular in Stevens side. Someone who over the last 18 months has applied himself superbly and is now seeing the benefits of his hard work, long may that continue.”