6th August 2018
Danske Bank Premiership
By Jana McCabe
The last game in the first weekend of the Premiership season saw Ards travel to Seaview to play current champions Crusaders. The red and blue army looked smart in their new blue and white away kit.
Ards looked dangerous at the very beginning when Kym Nelson was fouled in a goal scoring position but his free kick was just wide of the top right corner. Then Adam McAleenan nearly paid for a bad mistake which left Paul Heatley alone with Johnston who stayed calm and pulled off a fine save to keep the game even in the 6th minute. In the 24th minute the champions opened the scoring with familiar face Ross Clarke’s pass connecting with Michael Carvill who from the left edge of the box powerfully shot home to make it 1-0.
Crusaders continued to push with Rory Patterson’s header being well saved in the 26th minute. That pressure paid off in the 33rd minute when a short pass from David Cushley to Patterson gave him a goal scoring opportunity and he had no problem slotting it into the back of the net.
However Ards hit back in the next minute when a great run and pass from David McAllister found Gareth Tommons who on second time of asking slotted his far post shot into the back of the net. 2-1 in the 33rd minute. In the 40th minute Jordan Forsythe had a goal scoring opportunity but even with the calls from the red and blue army for offside Johnston kept calm once again and produced a great save. In the 43rd minute questionable refereeing occurred when Heatley clashed with Johnston which the referee originally called as a free kick outside the box but then after Crusaders protests and intervention from the assistant referee he changed his mind and awarded a penalty. Ards fans were in full volume with chants of cheat echoing around Seaview. Luckily for Ards Patterson’s shot wasn’t on target to the cheers of the red and blue army.
Early in the second half Josh Kelly and Frazer were both booked. In the 56th minute Ards got the equaliser with great team work between Sean Noble, Jonny Frazer and first goal scorer Tommons. Skilful play from Noble gave Frazer time to get into a dangerous position and his swinging pass found Tommons who got his second of the night to tie the game. Ards continued to push and two minutes later they were nearly rewarded when again the great team work showed when Tommons and Noble combined to trick the Crusaders defence but Tommons couldn’t control the ball to take a shot. In the 66th minute Crusaders had multiple chances but the Ards defence and Johnston did well to make sure none of them went in. Nelson was then substituted for Kyle Cherry.
In the 69th minute Crusaders retook the lead with a Ross Clarke corner connecting with the head of Forsythe to make it 3-2. Noble was then booked. Things went from bad to worse when Kelly picked up his second yellow on 81 minutes and received a red card which left Ards with ten men. Tommons was then booked and Callum Byers replaced by Eamon McAllister. Ards had their final chance of the game and what a goal it would have been, Frazer struck a volley from outside the area but it skimmed the bar in the 90th minute. In the first minute of injury time Crusaders got their fourth when Declan Caddell's bouncing header from a corner kick tricked Johnston. The game ended 4-2.
Even though no points were gained a positive start for Ards who continued to push and cause pressure throughout. Next Saturday Ards face Glentoran at home when hopefully we can see the same determination but this time a win.