• Michael Barritt

Match Report: Loughgall 2-1 Ards

Tennents' Irish Cup, Sixth Round

Saturday, 3 February, 2018

By Jana McCabe

Ards travelled to County Armagh to take on Championship side Loughgall in this Irish Cup Sixth Round tie hoping to avoid a cup upset. During the week Ards had bid farewell, for the rest of this season anyway, to fans favourite Craig McMillen who has followed ex-boss Niall Currie to Portadown, with Ross Clarke joining the Linfield contingent at Ards and making his debut.

After a pitch inspection the game proceeded as planned, with Ards immediately making the best of the trying conditions when a good run from David McAllister found Kyle Cherry who then passed to Josh Kelly, and the youngster's strike from outside the box took a slight deflection to beat the home side's 'keeper. So Ards 1-0 up after just 43 seconds.

Debutant Ross Clarke's great run and cross then found ex-Linfield team-mate Cameron Stewart in the 11th minute but his shot was just wide. Ards fans were then left speechless in the 21st minute when another great run from the impressive Clarke again found Stewart who selflessly passed to fellow striker Guillaume Keke inside the 6-yard-box but the Ards striker somehow failed to put the away side further ahead with his poor effort just grazing the bar on the way over.

In the 28th minute, as Loughgall pressed for an equalizer, there was panic in the penalty box with a penalty the outcome. Familiar face Gary Liggett stepped up to take the spot kick and coolly slotted his shot in to the corner of the net to pull the home side level. Loughgall continued to press for the remainder of the first half, but failed to score again, so the first half ended all square at 1-1.

The second half began with Ards captain Kyle Cherry picking up a caution before, less than 5 minutes later, receiving another yellow for a similar challenge, so the away side were down to 10 men. Stewart was then replaced by Scott Davidson, before McAllister's strong shot was saved in the 56th minute as the 10 men pressed for a breakthrough.

Things then got even worse for Ards when Michael Ruddy - who had taken the captain's armband after Cherry's dismissal - was then shown a harsh straight red card for a 2-footed challenge. With Ards now down to 9 men, Colin Nixon made his final 2 substitutions with the injured David McAllister and the ineffective Guillaume Keke being replaced by Michael McLellan and Nathan Hanley.