Pre season friendly
Dixon Park, Ballyclare
Saturday 14th July.
by Jana McCabe
After three friendlies Ards new signings are starting to settle in as part of the Red and Blue Army. Ards hadn’t been beaten in the friendlies so far but could they keep this up? Nelson made his debut as Byers took over the captaincy. Today’s opponents were Ballyclare who finished 5th in the championship last season.
Ards made a promising start with Noble having a goal scoring chance in the 10th minute but his touch was too heavy. Just two minutes later Fraser dispossessed Youle but there was no one to help put the ball in the back of the net. Ballyclare's Samuel McIlveen went off injured and was replaced by Ross Clarke in the fourteenth minute.
In the 19th minute Ballyclare took the lead with Joe McWilliams connecting with a through ball which tricked Johnston and the defence allowing McWilliams to calmly finish and make it 1-0 to the Comrades.
Ballyclare nearly got their second five minutes later with Clarke having a strong shot but it was just wide. Ards got their first shot on target in the 28th minute when McLellan's strong goal bound header was saved. In the last five minutes McWilliams nearly got his second when his header looked like it was going in but Johnston came to the rescue and saved it and as a result the first half ended 1-0.
Gareth Tommons and Jonah Mitchell came on at the start of second half and Mitchell was quickly called into action when he passed to Kerr whose creative pass found McLellan and his effort pinged off the woodwork.
In the 53rd minute penalty appeals echoed round Dixon Park but to the relief of Ards players and fans Byers foul was ruled outside the box and the resulting free kick hit the wall. The free kick block could have resulted in a breakaway but Tommons was penalised for handball.
In the 55th minute Comrades Donnelly nearly caught Ards out as the defence left him alone and his shot made Johnston produce a fine save. Donnelly looked dangerous throughout and his hard work paid off when his cross evaded the Ards defence to leave McWilliams with an open net and at the second attempt he slid it in to make it 2-0 with his second of the day.
McLellan was subbed for Marc McKenna as Ards tried to get back in the game. In the 67th minute Ards pulled a goal back. An unsuccessful Eamon McAllister free kick was won back by Tommons, promising play between Tommons and McKenna gave Frazer a goal scoring chance but his shot was saved. However Noble was there to hit the rebound in to make it 2-1 in the 67th minute. Then in the 69th minute Ards looked threatening when McAllister's shot made the Comrades stopper pull off a fine save. In the 81st minute Noble's shot tested Floods and the keeper followed up with another great save to prevent Mitchell scoring from the rebound. The half ended and the game finished 2-1.
As the game finished an ambulance arrived for a Ballyclare's Scott Gault, who suffered a badly broken arm during the second half. We all wish him a very speedy and successful recovery. A disappointing result for Ards but attention now turns to Saturday's friendly at Shorts F.C. with kick off at 2:30 p.m.