Match Report: Ards 4-2 Warrenpoint
Danske Bank Premiership
April 3rd 2018
by Jana McCabe
Both teams came in to this game hoping for all 3 points in the first post-split game for both sides. Ards were missing a number of senior players due to either injury or suspension so the starting line-up had a youthful appearance.
Ards made a positive start with Guillaume Keke showing great control but his strike partner Cameron Stewart just failed to connect with his pass. In the 6th minute Anton Reilly received an early caution for a sliding challenge on Kyle Cherry, before Josh Kelly tried his luck with a shot from outside the box in the 11th minute but Warrenpoint 'keeper Jonny Parr made a comfortable save.
In the 15th minute Keke then had to leave the field after injuring himself stretching to connect with a great cross from Cameron Stewart, being replaced by Michael McLellan.
Ten minutes later, in the 25th minute, the deadlock was broken. A foul on Jonny Frazer resulted in a free kick outside the box, with Reece Glendinning calmly stroking the ball in to the top right hand corner of the net.
Ards pushed for a second and came close when Jonah Mitchell's shot from outside the box just failed to find the target. Parr then made a fine save to deny a header from Callum Byers before, in the 36th minute, Ards scored a second when Luke Kelly's dangerous cross found McLellan whose header beat Parr to make it 2-0.
'Point's TJ Murray was then booked before, just 2 minutes after their second goal, Ards scored again with McLellan feeding Cherry who calmly struck his shot in to the net to make it 3-0 to the home side. Kelly then had a good chance to make it 4-0 in first half stoppage time, but his shot was scrambled clear.
So the first half finished with Ards three ahead and Warrenpoint left with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Just four minutes in to the second half the away side did pull one back with Alan O'Sullivan shooting through traffic to find the back of the net. 'Point nearly scored again in the 55th minute with a great strike from Reilly but Sam Johnston was alert to the danger. However, one minute later, Johnston spilled a shot leaving Josh Lynch an easy task of slotting home, meaning that Ards' lead was now cut to only one.
McLellan then had a great opportunity but his attempted curling effort failed to trouble the ‘Point keeper. With the home fans increasingly worried that the 3-goal halftime lead would slip, Jonny Frazer came to the rescue when his wonder strike volley found the back of the net. Despite the away side appealing for an offside decision, the home side were now 4-2 ahead, and in some style too.
Scorer of the crucial goal Frazer was then replaced by debutant Alex McIlmail, before another free kick from Glendinning just failed to hit the target. As the game drew to a close Stewart was replaced by Marc McKenna, with Jonah Mitchell then receiving a caution for deliberate handball in the 88th minute.
Luke Kelly then crashed in to the advertising hoardings after a tackle, with the game ending 4-2 with Josh Kelly picking up the home man of the match award.
Three welcome points for Ards who are now in eighth place in the league table, and are the form team of the teams in the bottom section of the split, giving hope for the four
remaining games of the season, starting with another home game against Ronnie McFall's Glentoran on Saturday.
Another encouraging sign for Ards was that 7 of the team who finished the game are under the age of 22, as Colin Nixon gives a number of the younger players the chance to stake their claim for more game time both this season and next.
Sam Johnston, Adam McAleenan, Callum Byers, Reece Glendinning, Luke Kelly, Jonah Mitchell, Kyle Cherry, Josh Kelly, Jonny Frazer, Cameron Stewart, Guillaume Keke
Michael McLellan (for Guillaume Keke), Alex McIlmail (for Jonny Frazer), & Marc McKenna (for Cameron Stewart). Unused: Johnny Taylor & Nathan Hanley