Lough 41 Championship.
Harland and Wolff Welders vs Ards.
Saturday 12th November at 3.00 p.m.
Thanks to the idiosyncrasies of the fixture list Ards make their second trip of the season to Blanchflower Park and it will be February before the Welders make the trip to Clandeboye Park. In an inconsistent season so far Ards fans will have good memories of the last trip to this venue when the opening match of the season ended in a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 win for the Red and Blues. Things haven't been plain sailing for either side since, which is a little surprising as pre-season both were being touted as realistic contenders for promotion. Fast forward three months and Ards are sitting in fifth place, eight points behind the promotion play-off spot and a full 16 points behind runaway leaders Loughgall! The Welders are currently in eleventh place, which is the relegation play-off position, but have too good a squad to stay there so Ards should not take them for granted.
Included in that Welders squad are no fewer than nine players who have spent time at Ards, most notably Sam Johnston, Callum Byers, Johnny Frazer and Michael McLellan who are all likely to feature this weekend. McLellan and Matthew Ferguson share the leading scorer position so far but with just three goals each, indeed the Welders have only scored 16 league goals so far and five of them came in the win against Institute, their solitary home win so far this season.
There is little to choose between the sides on recent form, both having lost three of the last five, although Ards did manage two wins while the Welders won one and drew one. However most clubs in this league appear unable to string together a consistent run of results and these two are no exception, so the outcome of this game is anyone's guess!
Ards fans have had little to cheer on their travels since that opening day win, the only other away points being picked up at Knockbreda, but even their home form is perplexing, five home wins in a row and some good performances came to a shuddering halt last Tuesday when newly promoted Newington won 2-1. Ards did have a couple of chances before the visitors scored but can have no complaints about the result. Hopefully the return of Eamon Scannell to the squad will help provide the creativity that seemed to be lacking on Tuesday.
There is no bus travelling to this game, so supporters are encouraged to car-share. Anyone intending to drive and with a spare seat in the car is asked to be at Gibson's Lane around 2.15 p.m.
Match Officials :-
Referee :- Mark Milligan.
1st Assistant :- Justin Maxwell.
2nd Assistant :- Lauren Trainor.