Craig McMillen Testimonial
By Jana McCabe
As Craig McMillen’s time at Ards FC comes to an end, there was no better way we could reward his loyalty to the club than a testimonial. During his time in red and blue, Whack has made a huge impact and will be sorely missed. Ards opponents today were Portadown, who are currently in the championship.
Portadown’s Adam Salley had the first chance of the game but his shot from the edge of the box was just wide of the left post in the fifth minute. Ards had their first chance a minute later with a David McAllister cross connecting with Jonny Frazer’s head but his header was over the bar. Then Craig McMillen rolled back the years with a great tackle on Salley. In the twenty fourth minute Gareth Tommons conceded a free kick with Sean Mackle stepping up to take it, but his shot from a dangerous position was just wide of the right post. Whack saved the day again with a crucial tackle on Salley as he was preparing for a one on one with the keeper. Michael McLellan then had his header cleared off the line as Ards pressed for an opening goal. When Ards were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box in the thirty fifth minute, there was only one contender to take it but Whack’s shot was high and wide.
Portadown nearly opened the scoring but Jamie Haughey’s shot was just over the bar in the thirty seventh minute. Sam Johnston then produced a fine block when Darren Murray took a dangerous spinning shot in the closing stages of the first half.
The second half saw Ards make three substitutions with Johnston, Frazer and Nelson leaving the field being replaced by Jason Mooney, Jonah Mitchell, and Kyle Cherry. Ards began the second half with more urgency with Sean Noble’s left wing run and shot just failing to produce the power to make it tricky for the keeper.
On the hour mark McMillen left the field for the last time in the red and blue of Ards. It was an emotional exit as Whack applauded all sections of the Bangor Fuels Arena.
Noble also left the pitch at the same time, with Marc McKenna joining the action and Kym Nelson returning to the action! Two minutes later Ards made another substitution with McAllister leaving the field to be replaced by Adam Brown.
In the sixty third minute, Ards had a great opportunity to break the deadlock when a superb pass from Tommons found McLellan but his effort resulted in an easy save for Tyler Blair. David Elebert was then taken off the field to be replaced by Matthew Torrens.
In the seventieth minute Ards finally broke the deadlock with a cross from Nelson finding McLellan whose skilful header found the back of the net. Goal scorer McLellan was then replaced by Scott McArthur, with Matthew Kerr being replaced by Michael Hunter just minutes later.
In the ninety second minute McKenna’s strong shot from outside the box was saved by the Portadown keeper. Then, in the last action of the game, a run from Tommons found McKenna but he tried to control it with his head and gave the Portadown defence time to regain possession. The final whistle blew to signal a 1-0 win for Ards.
Ards complete their pre-season fixtures with a friendly at Rathfriland on Saturday. As for Whack, he’ll be wearing the amber and black of Carrick Rangers this season. I would just like to thank Whack for his loyalty to Ards, his 100% effort and all the funny moments. You never failed to give everybody a laugh. Good luck with the rest of your career.