Ards vs Loughgall
Lough 41 Championship
Bangor Fuels Arena
Tuesday 10th August at 7.45 p.m
Match sponsors - F.B.Motors Newtownards
Ball sponsor - POC Golf, Philip Cafolla
Ards take on another mid-ulster club on Tuesday night when Dean Smith brings his Loughgall side to Bangor. While Ards were winning at Annagh on Saturday with a last gasp goal from Patrick Cafolla after trailing twice in the game, Loughgall started their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win at home to Dundela who are of course managed by ex-Ards manager Colin Nixon.
Loughgall will consider themselves to be one of several sides in the division who are realistic promotion contenders and they have made some significant signings over the summer. They include a number of players with experience at Premiership level, such as goalkeeper Berraat Turker, Mark Patton, Ally Teggart and Nedas Maciulaitis who were all in the starting eleven on Saturday, with Patton and substitute Lorcan Forde, ex Dungannon and Linfield, among the goalscorers. Jourdan Shearer who left Ards during the summer and wasn't included in the panel against Dundela will be keen to feature against his old club, but with such an experienced squad at Lakeview Park he may have to wait to make his competitive debut for the Villagers.
John Bailie will have to give some thought to his team selection. Saturday's game was difficult to assess, with playing conditions, particularly in the torrential rain during the first half, often making a mockery of any attempts to play constructive football. However the team battled well and the substitutions had the desired impact with Patrick Cafolla netting twice on his competitive debut and veteran Craig McMillen putting in his usual enthusiastic performance, lifting team mates and supporters alike. Hopefully there will be no injuries after what was quite a physical battle, so the only absentees will be as before with Danny Magill, T.J.Murray and Dee Dee McAllister unavailable for selection.
Ards enter a run of three consecutive home games, with matches against Harland and Wolff Welders and Queen's upcoming before a couple of tricky away games against Newry and Dergview. Coincidentally the Welders beat Queen's 5-0 in their opening fixture while Newry and Dergview also opened with wins, Dergview trouncing Ballinamallard 5-0. It is important to get some points on the board early in what looks like being a very competitive league so hopefully the fans will turn out in numbers and get behind the team in what is their first competitive home game since defeating Lisburn Distillery in the ToalsBet County Antrim Shield on October 10th 2020!