Ards vs Portadown.
Bluefin Sport Championship.
Bangor Fuels Arena.
Friday 30th August at 7.45 p.m.
It may be only match day 6 but this is a crucial game for both sides as evidenced by the fact that in preparation for this game they both rested several players in League Cup ties and both suffered shock defeats. Ards made nine changes from the starting eleven that won at Knockbreda last Saturday when they played and lost at Limavady, while the Ports also rested a few key players and went down 2-1 at home to Dollingstown.
Currently Ards and Portadown, who were among the pre-season favourites to challenge for promotion, sit joint third in the table with 10 points, a point behind joint leaders Loughgall and Dundela, so with Queen's University only a point behind in fifth place, depending on results any one of the five teams could top the table after the weekend's games.
Ards will once again be missing Johnny Taylor and Jonah Heron through injury and Jerry Thompson may be a doubt after having to be substituted in Tuesday's defeat at Limavady.
Like Ards, Portadown have been inconsistent this season, with home defeats against Ballinamallard in the League as well as the League Cup defeat to Dollingstown, but they have recorded two 5-0 wins against Ballyclare and Knockbreda, which is why they head Ards on goal difference!
Manager Matthew Tipton has cast his net far and wide in the close season and has recruited Robert Edwards a 6 ft 6 inches goalkeeper who last played with New York Red Bulls Under 23 side, and Gary Millar an experienced striker from Scotland, as well as Adam Salley from Linfield and local lad Lee Bonis who scored 50 goals for Seagoe last season. Also in the panel will be Greg Hall, who will be remembered fondly by Ards fans for his consistency and reliability while playing for the Red and Blues.
Match Officials :
Referee : Mark Dillon.
1st Assistant : Ken Ross.
2nd Assistant : Aaron Graham.
Match Sponsor : T.B.C.
Ball Sponsor : The Hideout Barber and Shop, North Street, Newtownards.