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  • Writer's pictureMichael Barritt

Loughgall 6 Ards 1 – Match Report

NIFL Championship – 29/10/22

By Phillip Bartlett

Ards pay the penalty for not taking their chances….

An excellent all-round performance last time out as we secured a very positive 2-1 win at home to second in the table Annagh United. We go a step further this weekend taking on top of the table Loughgall aiming to close the gap to the leaders. Two teams above us play each other as Dundela host Warrenpoint so a win is a must to take advantage. It’s not too hyperbolic to suggest Ards were humiliated by Loughgall when they came to Clandeboye Park earlier in the season so today gives these players a chance to redeem themselves somewhat, a tough proposition but with a settled side performing well, we go into the game with a chance and with confidence on the up.

Ards reverted to type today, going back to the starting line-up that brought them the much coveted 3 wins a row after finding a touch of form. Conal Young was back on the bench as TJ Murray was deemed fit enough to make a return to action in the middle of the park. Daniel Reynolds also took a seat on the subs bench as Ross Hunter was reinstated up top having missed out against Institute last week. A familiar shape to the team with 1-4-3-3 when in possession, while dropping to a more defensive 1-4-5-1 when in retreat without the ball.

Having been humiliated 5-0 last time out against Loughgall Ards set out to redeem themselves and based on a first half performance we seemed very well placed to do just that. A miserable second half put paid to that notion however and despite getting back into the game via Eamon Scannell we gave away 5 second half goals eventually going down 6-1. The Ards of old that create and create but fail to convert were back today missing numerous chances in a dominating first half display, to eventually lose the opening goal and head into the break behind. The second half Loughgall doubled their lead early on, seeming to take the game away from the visitors but Ards didn’t back down and managed to get quickly back into the game at 2-1. They kept it tight for the next 20 minutes and there was real hope of an equaliser building, but 10 minutes of madness put paid to that as Ards handed the league leaders 3 of the softest goals you will see. Poor decisions costing us dearly at crucial times.

PASC Flag on show at todays game

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an Ards team dominate a half of football as much yet still go into the break behind. Ards were at it from the first kick, dominating the ball and creating chance after chance but failed to convert any. Turker in the Loughgall goal was a busy man but one job he didn’t have to do in the first half was pick the ball out of his net. Calderwood got Ards off to a strong start, putting Turker on the back foot from the very first minute with a dangerous ball into the box from the right. Whether it was a cross or a shot only Kyle will know, but it caught the keeper out, just managing to scramble back and palm it out to safety. An early sign of intent from Ards.

Ards kept up the early pressure with a trio of corners within a minute but failed to take advantage of any of them, Loughgall under high pressure at the back but coping admirably thus far. The best chance for Ards to grab the opening goal fell for Salley on 18’. The striker picked the ball up from Hunter in the final third and headed for goal. He had lots of time and space and was able to pick his spot from distance but almost dragged it across the goal allowing Turker to get a foot to it and clear the danger. I think all the RABA expected the net to bulge there but it was not to be. Ards didn’t let up and were threatening again just 3 mins later, Scannell this time with a long-range effort. Taggart did really well to pressurise Cartwright and steal the ball from him on 21’. The ball was played to Hunter in the middle of the park and a second square ball laid off to Scannell. He lined up the effort but couldn’t keep it down and it sailed over the bar. Hunter was in the middle of everything good Ards were trying to do today and on 23’ he had his own chance, almost mimicking Calderwood’s effort from minute one, again from the right, again a cross come shot and again it had Turker scrambling but with the same result as the big keeper managed to get enough on it to clear.

Football seems to do this, and will no doubt continue to do it as long as the game is played…you don’t take your chances, you get punished! On 26’ Ards got punished…. Loughgall grabbing the opening goal of the match with their first noteworthy attack of the game. While Loughgall were of little to no attacking threat at this point any joy they had managed was coming down their left, the Ards right, and this is where the goal came from. Jamie Rea from the left, ball into the box for Ferris to head towards goal. Moore made a great save, getting down sharply to his left and palming it away at this stage the keeper needed some help from his defence, but the ball managed to find its way to an unmarked Norton who smashed it into the roof of the net from about 15 yards out. Ards left to rue those missed chances and reflect on some slack defending.

While deflated, Ards didn’t drop their heads as they had dominated the first 25 minutes of that match. They were soon on the front foot again and unlucky to not grab an equaliser before the interval. Johnny Taylor had a half chance after Turker made a mistake from an Eamon Scannell corner, the big keeper dropping it in the area. Taylor was there to try and make something of it but the Loughgall #1 made up for his mistake tussling with the Ards man and eventually coming out the winner and clearing the danger. Ards still had time for another chance before the interval, Adam Salley again and I’d have put all the money I had on him to find the back of the net. Hunter the creator playing the ball inside, perfectly weighted pass for Salley to hit first time. He duly does so but Turker makes a great reaction save, just about getting his hand up and tipping it over the bar. A great strike but just as good a save to maintain the home teams slender lead.

The ref blew up after 1 min of time added on at the end of the first half, Ards trudging off down the tunnel not quite sure how we are behind in this one.

There were no changes made for either side at the break with Loughgall getting us back under way after the interval.

Tough day at the office for the Ards centre half pairing

Perhaps a sign of things to come, Johnny Taylor was shown a yellow card for a mistimed challenge in the 1st minute of the second half. Loughgall the aggressors early on but almost being invited forward by some poor Ards defending and questionable decisions at the back. We hardly had time to get settled into the second half before Loughgall doubled their lead on 49’ as Neda Maciulaitis grabbed the second with a free header at the back post. Ards had several opportunities to complete the clearance but couldn’t make it stick, the ball eventually running wide for Loughgall, the cross was perfect, and it was a chance that Maciulaitis couldn’t miss. Initially I thought he had missed it as it appeared to hit the bar and fly out, unfortunately for Ards it hit the under-side of the bar and flew into the net.

Now 2-0 down to the league leaders and a lot for Ards to do to get anything out of this one but just 5 minutes after going 2 down, Mr Dependable popped up with his 8th goal of the season to get Ards right back into the game with well over half an hour to go. A perfectly weighted pass through the middle found the run of Scannell, which he had timed well, no hint of an offside. Turker tried to stay big and disorient the forward, but Scannell has form in these situations and made no mistake, sliding the ball to the keepers right and into the back of the net. 2-1 the score, Ards back in the game and a bit of hope for the travelling supporters.

Just 5 minutes later Scannell was at it again, Taggart with the ball through this time and the wide man was in space in the box. His touch had taken him wide of goal and he tried to cut inside to find some room for either a shot or maybe pick out a pass for someone better positioned. There was little to no support in the box, so he went for a shot towards the near post but again Turker was equal to it and made the save. Another great chance for Ards and Scannell was well within his rights to go for goal judging by his current form and the lack of any real support in the box.

Ards kept pressing for an equaliser, keeping it tight until the 73rd minute when the wheels seemed to come off for the away team. Loughgall scoring 4 goals in a 10-minute spell that really knocked the stuffing out of Ards, architects of their own downfall throughout that spell. It was a good team goal for Loughgall’s 3rd, two crazy penalties given away, no dispute for either of them followed by an unbelievable back pass played straight to a Loughgall player around the Ards box for the 6th goal.

Andrade made it 3-1 to the home side on 73’ when he finished a good team move inside the box, finding the corner of the net. Unmarked with the freedom of the pitch, Moore had no chance with this one. Ards’ Johnny Taylor had a few minutes to forget as he conceded the first of the penalties with a rash challenge in the box on 77’, the Loughgall man going nowhere and with the ball nowhere in sight. Maciulaitis stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, 4-1 the score line. Ards now pressed the self-destruct button as goal scorer Eamon Scannell was tracking back into the box, making another unnecessary and rash challenge and penalty number two was awarded on 79’. Same penalty taker, same result, Moore not getting close to the save after another good spot kick, 5-1 the score and Maciulaitis grabs his hat trick. Loughgall hitting another 5-goal haul against Ards, much to the annoyance and frustration of the travelling supporters who had hoped for a better showing that last time out.

There was still 10 minutes of the match left and Ards were out of this one, a sentiment that was summed up on 82’ when Johnny Taylor gifted Loughgall a 6th goal. Having done well to win the ball the centre half proceeded to play a backward pass towards his own goal without checking out those around him. The ball was played straight to Maciulaitis who played it square to Magee in the middle of the goal, Moore did his best to get out and pressure the ball but was outnumbered, the final pass reaching Patton who slipped it into the open goal, 6-1 the score line, Ards on the end of another humiliating result against Loughgall.

We move on to the next game, home to the Mallards

There were a few minutes left but the game had been over as a contest for some time and Loughgall just moved the ball around the pitch giving Ards nothing to work with. Fortunately, the ref blew up just after the 90, opting not to play much, if any, time added on. It was relief for the away fans when the final whistle went, Ards having now to take some time to reflect on what went wrong today. Having competed so well in the first half to end up being on the end of a 6-1 score line is hard to stomach and even harder to explain. While all goals can ultimately be avoided, you do make life really difficult for yourself when you hand a team at the top of the league 3 really soft goals.

Ards now find themselves in 7th place in the table with results in the other games going against us. Consistency is the key and something we are struggling to find. We host 5th place Ballinamallard next week at Clandeboye park, having suffered a heavy defeat away to Ferney Park in September, we really need to find a performance once again.

Starting Line-up:

Moore, Crane, Taylor, Hall, Calderwood, Scannell, Murray, Cafolla, Taggart, Hunter, Salley


Craughwell, Arthurs, Jallow, McAllister, McVeigh, Young, Reynolds

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