Match Report: Ards 1-3 Cliftonville
By Jana McCabe
Tough times at Ards meant that they started the game four points adrift at the bottom of the league table, playing against a Cliftonville side who travelled to the Bangor Fuels Arena with confidence after a convincing win over Glenavon the previous weekend.
In appalling playing conditions, an entertaining opening period saw Cliftonville awarded a penalty in the fifth minute after a Craig McClean handball. Joe Gormley took the spot-kick but his strike was saved by Ards stopper Sam Johnston. In the seventh minute Gareth Tommons' corner found the head of Michael McLellan but his header was cleared.
In the eighth minute Cliftonville broke the deadlock when Johnston came out of the box to clear the ball. However, penalty-taker Gormley was able to control the clearance with his pass finding Rory Donnelly and his header flew past the weak Ards defence and Johnston and into the back of the net. 0-1 in the eighth minute.
In the ninth minute goalscorer Donnelly’s run and pass to Gormley saw his shot deflect off Ards Captain Callum Byers and fall back to Gormley who, at the second time of asking, struck the ball into the back of the net to make it 0-2.
Ryan Curran’s shot from outside the box was saved in the fourteenth minute by the busy Johnston before, in the twenty second minute, Ards got one back when a corner from Gareth Tommons was headed in to his own net by Rory Donnelly. 1-2.
In the thirty second minute Stephen Garrett’s shot from the edge of the box was wide of the left post whilst, for Ards, Kym Nelson’s freekick resulted in a Michael McLellan header being well saved by Richard Brush, with the half ending 1-2.
Cliftonville scored their third in the sixty first minute when Levi Ives shot from distance found the back of the net to make it 1-3. Shortly after that a freekick from McLellan flew over the bar. In the seventieth minute, a shot from the Reds' leading all-time goalscorer Gormley was wide as Cliftonville looked for another goal.
In the seventy fifth minute Ryan Strain’s header could only find the top of the netting. Strain was in action again when his pass was nearly controlled by Eamon McAllister, but Cliftonville stopper Brush was able to collect the loose ball. In the closing stages of the game Kym Nelson’s strong volley was saved by Richard Brush. The game ended 1-3.
A disappointing result for Ards as the relegation battle continues. Ards's next opponents are top of the table Ballymena where the Red and Blues will look for a much-needed change in their fortunes.
Starting 11- Sam Johnson, Eamon McAllister, Callum Byers, David Elebert, Adam McAleenan, Gareth Tommons, Craig McClean, Kym Nelson, Kyle Cherry, Michael McLellan, and David McAllister,
Used substitutes- Michael Kerr (for David Elebert), Ryan Strain (for Kyle Cherry) and Mark Kelly (for Michael McLellan).
Unused Substitutes- Jason Mooney, Jonah Mitchell, Marc McKenna and Scott McArthur
Yellow cards- Michael Kerr.