Ards 0 - Institute 3
By Jana McCabe
Ards, who currently sit bottom fourteen points from automatic safety in the Premiership, faced ninth-placed Institute at a cold Bangor Fuels Arena in what turned out to be Manager Colin Nixon's last game in charge.
In the second minute Joe McCready’s shot from range looked destined for the top right-hand corner of the net but good goal-keeping from Sam Johnston deflected the shot over the bar before, in the seventh minute, Eamon McAllister’s pass from the edge of the box found Damien McNulty but his header lacked strength and 'Stute keeper Martin Gallagher gathered easily.
In the tenth minute McAllister was in action again but his shot failed to find the target, before Kym Nelson's strong half volley was palmed away by the Institute stopper, and the busy Nelson's pass gave Michael McLellan a great opportunity but his shot could only strike the outside of the right-hand post, as Ards looked for an early opener.
However, in the thirty second minute, Dean Curry’s shot from inside the box found the bottom left-hand corner of the Ards net to make it 0-1 to the visitors. In the thirty sixth minute Nelson’s deflected freekick skimmed over the bar with the first half ending 0-1.
In the forty ninth minute, Institute's Ronan Doherty had a great chance when a mix-up in the Ards defence presented him with an empty net, but he hesitated and his shot was deflected wide by Craig McClean to the relief of home fans. In the fifty fourth minute Nelson’s pass found McNulty but his looping header was off target as Ards looked for an equaliser.
In the sixty sixth minute a skillful pass from the right wing gave Nelson another opportunity at the left-hand post but his shot was off target to the disappointment of the Red and Blue Army.
In the seventy fifth minute Institute doubled their lead when Jake Morrow’s beautiful strike from outside the box found the top right-hand corner before, in the eighty seventh minute, Institute scored the third and final goal of the game when Doherty’s stunning curling shot found the top left-hand corner.
The game ended 0-3 with Johnny Taylor picking up the award for home Man Of The Match, with the Ards players and coaching staff leaving the pitch to an eerie silence, with a buoyant Institute side celebrating in a huddle inside the centre circle.
The game ended up being manager Colin Nixon’s last when, less than an hour after the full time whistle, it was announced that he had been relieved of his duties. Ards' next game is against eleventh-placed Newry City who visit the Bangor Fuels Arena in a game when a win is crucial for Ards in the fight against relegation.
Starting Eleven - Sam Johnston, Michael Kerr, Craig McClean, Johnny Taylor, Damien McNulty, Eamon McAllster, Kyle Cherry, Josh Kelly, Gareth Tommons, Kym Nelson and Michael McLellan.
Used substitutes- Mark Kelly (for Kyle Cherry), Brendan Bennett (for Craig McClean) and Adam McAleenan (for Damien McNulty).
Unused substitutes- Jason Mooney, David McAllister, Daryl Evans and Eoghan McCawl.
Yellow cards- Gareth Tommons, Craig McClean & Kyle Cherry