PLAYR-FIT Teamwear Championship.
Ards F.C vs Newington F.C
Saturday August 5th at 3.00 p.m.
The wait is over, the friendlies are done and dusted and the real action starts with the visit of Newington as the 2023/24 season kicks off at Clandeboye Park. Ards fans who haven't caught any of the friendly games will see a few new faces in the line up, particularly in the defence where Karl Hamill is the only regular left from last season following the departures of Johnny Taylor, Greg Hall, Christopher Crane, Conall Young and Ben Mullen. However Matthew Tipton will also be able to consider the returning Michael Ruddy, who is club captain following T.J.Murray's move to Ballymena United, together with Matt Gorman who came from Newington in the close season and Adam McCallum from Portadown, as well as young full backs Max Greer and Connor Maxwell, for his first competitive line-up of the season. It is hoped Alex Moore will be fit enough to take his place in goal, if not Neil Shields will continue to deputise as he did in the friendly matches.
With so many new faces getting the right blend in defence won't be easy, but there is sufficient experience available to improve on last year's goals conceded total. Scoring goals was less of a problem last year but a lot of that was down to Adam Salley who has as expected moved on to bigger things. Our midfield, which set up a lot of those goals and contributed many themselves, in particular through Eamon Scannell, Patrick Cafolla and Ethan Taggart looks strong and has been added to with the signings of previous loanees Conor Scannell and Aiden Steele as well as George Tipton from Ballymena United, while other newcomers, the experienced James McLaughlin from Coleraine and the Amateur League's top scorer last season Callum Dougan, will be helping Ross Hunter to fill the gap left by Adam Salley.
McLaughlin and Tipton were only signed on Thursday so may not be ready for debuts in this game, but new signings such as Max Miller and Jamal Dupree who have already played in the series of friendly games will no doubt be pushing to make their competitive debut.
Newington aren't unaffected by changes in personnel either, as already mentioned defensive stalwart Gorman has joined Ards while influential ex-Ards player Gary Warwick has gone to Ballymacash Rangers.
Last season Ards were in the top half and Newington in the bottom half when the league split so they only played each other three times with honours even. Newington won 2-1 in Bangor last November, Ards earned revenge by the same scoreline at the same venue in December, and perhaps fittingly the final game at Solitude in March this year finished 2-2.
A big crowd is expected for the start of the league season so get down there and lend your support to the team as they begin their push for promotion.
Season tickets will be available prior to kick off, see Jim Bailie or any director.
Match sponsor :- Ardsview Grooming Services.
Ball sponsor :- Greyabbey Collectables.
Match Officials :-
Referee :- Mark Milligan.
1st Assistant :- Jason Millar.
2nd Assistant :- Aaron Graham.