Lights go out again on Ards Irish Cup chase
Irish Cup 2nd Round – 02/04/22
Match report by Phillip Bartlett
Lights go out again on Ards Irish Cup chase
Second time lucky for Ards FC in the Irish cup? Due to an administrative error by Dundela Ards were handed a second chance in this season’s Irish cup and restored to the 2nd round to face Newry at the Showgrounds. Newry have the advantage over Ards already this season having claimed a win and a draw in the previous two meetings in the Championship. Currently sitting 16 points ahead at the top of the league, it was never going to be an easy fixture for Ards but following the departure of John Bailie and his coaching team, there was hope that the players would step up and show that they are determined to play for the club and make a success of it on the pitch.
Following two late red cards in last weeks league game away to Queens Ards were without new signing Benny Igiehon and Christopher Crane. Sam Dinu was brought in at left back and January signing Joe Tully started up front. Kyle Calderwood, recently recalled from his loan move to Bangor, was on the bench.
A red card, a gift of a goal and a floodlight failure, all in the first half, was enough to settle the game, giving Newry a 1-0 win, and sending Ards out of the cup for the second time this season. There was a decent crowd of travelling fans considering it was a bitterly cold evening (and Manchester United were playing on the TV 😉). The home support was very disappointing however, but they will have gone home the happier of the two moving into the quarter finals of the cup.
The game was settled in the first half with a Daniel Hughes goal for the home team, following a misjudged defensive header by Ards captain Jamie McGovern. A long ball by Newry caught the back line out and McGovern tried to get the ball back to the keeper while under pressure from Hughes. The header fell short allowing Hughes to nip in, prod the ball past the stranded keeper and turn it into the back of the net. It was a huge mistake and really the only thing that separated the two teams throughout the 90+ minutes, despite Ards having a man advantage for over 70 of those minutes.
Ards had started the brighter of the two teams with Jallow and DD McAllister getting on the ball early and driving at the Newry defence but didn’t trouble Brady in the Newry goal. Newry quickly came into the game, dominating the midfield area and putting Ards under pressure, but the tide turned in Ards favour on 21’ when Newry’s Lockhart saw red for a bad tackle on Jallow. It was a studs-up
challenge that caught the pacey Ards winger, and the ref had little choice but to show the red card, despite the home supporters’ protestations. Truthfully, there wasn’t a huge amount for the supporters of either team to get excited about in an attacking sense as it took to the 30’ for the first shot on target. Jallow sped away from his man, found himself one on one with the Newry keeper, but it was a tight angle, and his tame shot was easily gathered by Brady at the second attempt. Ards best chance of the half had come just before the sending off, Jallow won the ball but was fouled by Healy, the ref playing a good advantage allowed Cafolla to pick up the loose ball and play a great pass through to Young. He made a driving run into the box but his cut back pass towards the near post was just short of Tully and Newry were able to clear.
Shortly after the goal there was a problem with the lighting systems at the Showgrounds and with about 30 seconds or so remaining in the half the ref decided to bring it to a close. Newry down to 10 men but leading 1-0 at the break.
During half time the Showgrounds were thrown into darkness leading to some suggestions that the game might have to be abandoned but someone must have found a few quid for the meter and the lights were restored. The game was able to recommence with no changes made to either side at the break.
In the second half Newry were content to hold what they had and sat back letting Ards come at them to try and break them down while still looking for opportunities to hit us on the counter. On 55’ they did just that and had a great chance to double their lead as they broke quickly from an Ards corner. Teelan found himself one on one with Lemoignan, but his shot lacked power and was easily collected. A warning to Ards of how the second half was going to go.
Ards, while having a man advantage, remained very cagey and kept four across the back with one holding in front, thus allowing their more attacking players an opportunity to try to get behind the Newry lines. Newry were very comfortable for the majority of the half as the Ards passing wasn’t fast enough to move the opposition around and often their passes went astray or players lost their footing at crucial moments. Attacking changes were made throughout the half with Ards ending the game with 4 front men on the pitch. This did make a difference and Ards were able to get at Newry more often creating several chances, but again failed to test Brady in the goal with any regularity. Scannell was the first to be introduced, replacing DD McAllister, and he made an almost instant impact with a corner from the right. Cafolla attacked the ball at the near post, coming close to turning it in, but Newry were able to scramble it away, Ards just not getting the bounce of the ball yet again. The biggest impact was made when Ross Arthurs was introduced, the big centre forward creating several chances to grab an equaliser and force extra time. He linked up well with Tully up front, initially latching on to Tully’s knock down on 79’, with his first-time shot being deflected over the bar by the keepers outstretched foot. His best chance of the game came on 90+2, a looping header from the back post that had all the Ards fans holding their breath, but it dropped agonislingly past the far post with the keeper beaten. The 3 additional minutes of the half were up, and the ref blew the final whistle.
The last 15 minutes credit must be given to the Ards team and management as the positive changes resulted in several great chances being created, the old problem of not taking them unfortunately has cost us again. It was a much better performance from the team than what we have witnessed of late and that was not lost on the fans as they made their way out of the ground, disappointed but with reasons to be positive. It must be said, it was against 10 men for over 70 minutes, but we held our own against a very good Newry side so we must be positive heading into a difficult round of league fixtures in February where we will cover a lot of ground with several high profile. away trips.
Who will come in to take over the team on a permanent basis is yet to be decided, and the hope is it will be decided soon so we can get down to work and start moving back up the table. Our sights now move to Loughgall with a rearranged fixture taking us to Lakeview Park on Tuesday night.
Lemoignan, Dinu, McGovern, O’Hare, Young, McGrandles, Cafolla, Donnelly, McAllister, Jallow, Tully
Arthurs, Reynolds, McCurry, Scannell
Subs not used: