PLAYR-FIT Teamwear Championship.
Portadown vs Ards.
Saturday 16th December.
Difficult December continues for Ards as in the next four games they travel to take on the current top three sides and their only home game is against Bangor, their landlords and North Down derby rivals. The fun begins with a trip to Shamrock Park for the first time this season to play Portadown, currently second in the division. Although both teams have picked up seven points from the last five, the contrast between the two is marked. The Ports have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the Championship, just 21 in 18 games, while they have scored 37, only Ballyclare have scored more and the Comrades have played a game more than the Ports.
Ex Ards stopper Aaron Hogg has been a regular for Portadown, while they can also call on the likes of ex-Premiership players like Ross Redman and Lee Chapman in defence. Up front Ryan Mayse has scored ten goals while Paul McElroy has chipped in with seven, 39 year old Eoin Bradley can be called upon to add his experience when needed.
Portadown's last league game was a 2-0 defeat at Wilgar Park on December 2nd, a top of the table feisty encounter that saw eight players yellow carded, four from each side. Their league game last weekend fell foul of the weather but they did play Loughgall on December 5th and won 2-0, a result that saw them qualify for the Bet McLean League Cup semi final where they will take on local rivals Glenavon. Incidentally it was eight years ago this week that Ards reached the Final of that competition when they beat Coleraine on penalties at Clandeboye Park after a 2-2 draw.
The Ards squad is gradually getting back to a full complement as some of the niggling injuries clear up, but they face a difficult month with some tough opponents and the result against Portadown may give some indication as to how the rest of the month will pan out. Sitting in tenth position after the late come-back to earn that 2-2 draw against Ballinamallard last week, fans will be looking nervously at the table and hoping that Dergview, who occupy the eleventh spot in the table, don't string a few results together and make up the current ten point gap. Ten points might seem a lot but Dergview have no less than three games in hand on the Red and Blues and as has been pointed out Ards have a difficult month ahead.
Match Officials :-
Referee :- Louise Thompson.
1st Assistant :- Shane Corrigan.
2nd Assistant :- Roy Beacom.