Bet McLean League Cup
October 9th 2018
By Stuart Dellow
Ards started this game with a very youthful line-up, partly a reflection of the club's willingness to give youth a chance and partly an attempt to give some of the players a rest before the league game at Warrenpoint next Saturday. In fact there were six players 19 years old or younger in the starting eleven and all three subs used were in the same age group!
Not unexpectedly, that youth and enthusiasm had Ards starting with a lot of early pressure although without a clear attempt on goal. It took 15 minutes before the deadlock was broken when Michael McLellan casually converted a Craig McClean cross from the left with the Dergview defence appealing for an offside decision that didn't come. Aggrieved by this perceived injustice Dergview attempted to hit back and Sam Johnston had to make an excellent 1 on 1 save following a quick counter attack from the home side. McLellan was then denied a clear penalty when he got a double handed shove inside the box, perhaps the referee was atoning for his failure to give offside for the opening goal?
Dergview equalised after half an hour's play when a quick breakaway found Falconer who advanced on Johnston and rounded him before stroking the ball home to make it 1-1. The game was pretty even for the remainder of the first half, without any clear chances being created.
The second half opened with McLellan doing well to hold the ball up and find Mitchell who was just wide from about 15 yards out. Ards were now on top and pushing to clinch the game but it was not until the 61st minute that they re-took the lead. A good ball by McLellan found Josh Kelly who did well to avoid the attention of two defenders before being brought down by a despairing lunge from Alan Buchanan in the home goal. McLellan hit the resultant penalty confidently high to the keeper's left to make it 2-1 and a deserved lead for Ards.
The youthful Ards side showed great pace and one run by McArthur left five defenders in his wake before earning a corner kick. Shortly afterwards in the 71st minute a Cherry cross from the right saw Strain place a delightful header wide of the keeper to make it 3-1 for Ards, the home side hadn't given up though and Sam Johnston had to make a good save diving to his left in the 76th minute as Dergview tried to get back in the game. Ards nearly had a fourth when Ryan Strain found Kelly but from a good position his shot went wide. As the minutes ticked down and the game looked safe, Colin Nixon took the opportunity to blood a couple more of the youngsters, firstly bringing on Sam Dinu for goalscorer Strain for his first team debut. Sam, who isn't 17 until the end of this week, made a quick impression, laying the ball nicely into the path of Cherry who saw his shot from outside the box somehow squeeze through the keeper's legs to make it 4-1. Torrens then came on for his debut, allowing Taylor to leave the field and McKenna replaced Mitchell for the last few minutes.
A well deserved win for Ards with every player contributing to a victory that takes the team through to the last eight of the BetMcLean League Cup. TEAM :- Johnston, Kerr, Taylor, McAleenan, McClean, Mitchell, J. Kelly, Cherry, McArthur, McLellan and Strain. SUBS :- Dinu for Strain [81 mins], Torrens for Taylor and McKenna for Mitchell [both 86 minutes]. YELLOW CARDS :- Mitchell [foul], McLellan [dissent].