As Craig McClean took charge of Ards for the last time Ards faced top of the table Portadown. Craig McMillen returned to the team in a lone striker role after missing last weeks defeat to Knockbreda as he completed his suspension. With a delayed kick off after kit confusion Portadown had the first major opportunity in the 4th minute when George Tipton’s corner was met by Adam Salley. However his free header was denied by Brian Neeson. Then Aaron Duke’s edge of box strike was just off target as the home side continued to create early pressure. On the half hour Ards had their first major chance when Nelson’s strong volley was just wide of the left hand post. 2 minutes later Portadown controversially took the lead when Lee Bonis was brought down by McGovern. However video coverage on Ports tv showed clearly that the tackle was outside the box. Salley took the penalty and found the bottom left corner to make it 1-0. Late in the first half Brian Neeson did well to keep the game 1-0 as Adam Duke’s close range strike was goal-bound, however, Neeson pulled off a lovely save to deny the Ports striker. Early in the second half lovely work from David McAllister gave Craig McMillen a great opportunity however he couldn’t take advantage of it and his attempt was wide. As Ards kept up the pressure Eamon McAllister forced Edwards into a save, the loose ball just evading the onrushing McMillen. Minutes later David McAllister set up another chance when skilful play from him gave Nelson a great opportunity, but he couldn’t keep his strike on target. The home side doubled their lead in the sixty fifth minute when Lee Bonis was able to take advantage of a defensive mix-up, 2-0. However three minutes later Ards got one back when a David McAllister corner found Kym Nelson, with his close range effort finding the back of the net. In the final minutes of the game Brian Neeson pulled off another great save to deny Salley his second of the day. The game ended 2-1. A disappointing result for Ards who are 6th in the table, while Portadown extend their lead at the top. After the game Craig McClean confirmed his retirement as a player and so ended his time with Ards FC. John Bailie was later announced as the new manager. Next week Ards face Dundela at Wilgar Park. Kym Nelson and TJ Murray will now miss this game due to yellow cards they picked up today. Ards- Neeson, McMillan, Armstrong, McGovern, Taylor, Harris, McMillen, Murray, E. McAllister, D. McAllister, Nelson. Used substitute- McLellan Unused substitutes- McConnell, Calderwood, Magee and McIlwrath Yellow cards- McMillan, Murray and Nelson.
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