PLAYR-FIT Teamwear Championship.
Bangor vs Ards.
Friday 11th August at 7.45 p.m.
Since Bangor cruised to promotion last season, both sets of fans have been anticipating the first proper North Down derby since March 2016 and now it has arrived, in only the second game of the 2023/24 season.
Both sides kicked off their season with defeats, Ards going down 3-1 to Newington in a game where the visitors seemed to have the greater desire for the points, while Bangor lost 3-2 at Ballyclare, losing out to two late goals by ex Ards striker Darius Roohi. Incidentally Bangor's goals in that game were scored by Scott McArthur, another ex Ards player. However recent form and even historical form mean little in the heat of a derby battle, although for the record Ards have won five of the last six league games against Bangor, an unbeaten run fans of the Red and Blues would like to see extended.
Bangor will fancy their chances, they went through last season with only one defeat in 27 league games and by all accounts were unlucky to leave Dixon Park last Saturday without at least a point. They have a number of players on their books that will be familiar to Ards fans, including Ben Arthurs who last year formed a formidable strike force with Adam Neale, Scott McArthur, Reece Neale, Ryan Arthur and Dylan O'Kane. Last season's title winning side have been strengthened by the loan signings of Larne youngsters Sean Brown and Ben Walker as well as Ben Cushnie, another familiar face to Ards fans, who joins on loan from Glentoran. Meanwhile Jack Henderson has rejoined the club from Ballymena.
With such a big squad the Bangor manager Lee Feeney, another familiar face, may take some time to find his best side, a problem anticipated by the Ards manager Matthew Tipton in the programme notes before last week's home defeat to Newington. Tipton felt his team had performed so well in most of the pre-season training and matches that finding his best starting eleven might take time, Ards fans will be hoping he will have it done by kick-off time against the old enemy!
The signings late last week of James McLaughlin and George Tipton meant they only played a bit part in last Saturday's game, but with a couple of training sessions behind them they will come into consideration for starting spots against Bangor. Ards fans will hope that Ethan Taggart will be recovered from injury to boost midfield options, likewise that Alex Moore will be fit to start in goal.
Ards fans are reminded that this is Bangor's home game and season tickets are not valid, they should enter through the away turnstiles.
Match Officials :-
Referee :- Mark Dillon.
1st Assistant :- Rachel Greer.
2nd Assistant :- Aaron Graham.