Lough 41 Championship.
Loughgall vs Ards.
Tuesday 8th February at 7.45 p.m.
Since Ards last travelled to play Loughgall the two teams have had vastly different fortunes. Including that game, which was played on October 23rd last year, the Red and Blues have only picked up nine league points from 13 games, while their opponents have gathered 26. Consequently Loughgall currently sit in second place eight points behind Newry City with a game in hand, whereas Ards have slipped into the bottom half of the table for the first time this season following their defeat at Queen's and are now in seventh place, eight points behind Loughgall.
For those looking for reasons to be optimistic there is the possibility of the impact of the new man in the hot seat, as Matthew Tipton was announced on Sunday as the man who will replace John Bailie as manager. Matthew has a good pedigree having taken both Warrenpoint and Portadown out of the Championship and into the Premiership and Ards fans will be hoping that he can work the same magic with Ards, if not this season then next.
After a poor run of league form Ards did display some fight in the narrow 1-0 Irish Cup defeat at the hands of Newry City last Friday, although they were playing against ten men for most of the game and the old failing of not taking chances when they arrive was once again in evidence. Hopefully the new manager, who was a top striker in his playing days, can help improve the ratio of goals scored to chances created.
Team selection and formation will be interesting, there has been little opportunity to work with the squad but the new man will have his own ideas and fans will be eager to see his first starting eleven. The squad will be the same as it was against Newry, with TJ Murray still injured and Igiehon and Crane serving the second game of their three match suspension period. If they harbour any hopes of even a play-off place, it is essential that Ards start to pick up points in their next eight games and return to the top six before the split takes place.
The PASC will not be running a bus to this game.
Match Officials - To be confirmed.