Match Report: Ballymena 2-0 Ards
By Jana McCabe
This match saw a top versus bottom of the table clash with high-flying Ballymena welcoming struggling Ards. In a week when Jonny Frazer said his farewell to Ards and David Elebert retired from football, Ards, who have only picked up one point this month, looked to gain some vital points.
The optimistic travelling Red and Blue Army only had to wait twelve minutes to see the league leaders take the lead a great cross from James Knowles gave Leroy Millar a free header which found the back of the net. 1-0 to Ballymena.
In the eighteenth minute Kyle Cherry collided with the Ballymena stopper who dropped the ball into the back of the net, but celebrations of the equaliser were short-lived as the referee awarded a goal kick to the anger of the away supporters.
In the twentieth minute Craig McClean’s cross in to the box found Michael McLellan’s head but his header was off target.
Then, great skill by David McAllister, which saw him beat three Ballymena players gave Ards a corner. The resulting corner saw McLellan miss the target with a free header to the sighs of the Red and Blue Army.
In the twenty eighth minute Sam Johnston couldn’t control the ball meaning that captain Callum Byers had to produce a crucial clearance off the line before, in the thirtieth minute, goalscorer Millar’s strong shot from outside the box was palmed over by Sam Johnston.
Johnathan Addis’ shot from the edge of the box was saved in the thirty first minute, with David McAllister’s strike from outside the box just wide of the right hand post in the same minute. Kofi Balmer’s one on one was denied by Johnston in the thirty third minute as both sides looked for a goal.
However, in the thirty fourth minute, Ballymena got their second when Millar’s strong tackle and skillful pass bypassed both the Ards midfield and defence and gave Jude Winchester a great opportunity, with Winchester making no mistake to find the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-0.
In the forty first minute a Tommons corner fell to Kyle Cherry, but his shot which looked goal-bound trickled wide of the left hand side post. In the forty second minute, Ballymena were awarded a penalty when Johnston brought down Cathair Friel in the penalty area. James Knowles took the spot kick but his shot was saved by the Ards stopper Johnston at his right-hand post.
In first half injury time, Johnston made another crucial double save when both Millar and Adam Lecky’s shots were goal bound. The half ended 2-0.
In the opening stages of the second half Michael Kerr’s long ball to David McAllister gave him a great opportunity but McAllister’s shot was off target. In the fifty eighth minute Callum Byers's header from a Tommons corner was wide of the left hand side post.
In the sixty second minute Cherry’s strong shot from outside the box was palmed away by the Ballymena keeper. Steven McCullough’s strike then struck the bar as both sides looked for a second half goal.
In the seventy sixth minute Ballymena were awarded their second penalty of the game when Cherry brought down Jude Winchester in the box.
Winchester stood up and took the penalty but super Sam saved his second penalty of the day this time at his left-hand post keeping the game at 2-0. Substitute Ryan Strain’s shot from the edge of the box was off target in the closing stages of the game, with the match ending 2-0.
So no points for Ards as they remain bottom of the table four points adrift. I would like to wish all my readers Happy Christmas and remember to ask for points for Ards on your Christmas list!
Starting XI: Sam Johnston, Michael Kerr, Eamon McAllister, Callum Byers, Kyle Cherry, Gareth Tommons, Craig McClean, Kym Nelson, Adam McAleenan, Michael McLellan and David McAllister.
Used Substitutes: Mark Kelly (for Michael McLellan), Marc McKenna (for Eamon McAllister), and Ryan Strain (for Kym Nelson).
Unused substitutes: Matthew Davidson, Josh Kelly and Jonah Mitchell.