After a disappointing defeat last week it was time to get the Bravehearts back to winning ways.
So off to Billy Neills we go to play Cliftonville in an 11am Kick Off. Cliftonville were certainly up for the match, especially after their first league win against league leaders Solway Star and they certainly made life hard for us in the first half.
We started briskly and started probing for a goal right from the kick off but Cliftonville were matching us everywhere on the pitch and making life very hard for us to break them down. We looked as if we had grabbed the opener in the 10th minute when Stuart Graham found Noah Crenshaw with a pass and as the keeper came out to narrow the angle Noah chipped him only to see his attempt come off the crossbar. The rest of the first half came down to both teams having half chances as we cancelled each other out most of the time. Five minutes from half time so a great solo attack from centre back Bradley McCourt when he gathered the ball just outside his own box pushed forward weaving his way through the Cliftonville midfield and defence only to see his shot go wide.
HALF TIME: 0 . 0
Half time team talk was to play more as a team in the second half and that’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately we had to make a sub at half time with Kurtis Barkley nursing an injury he was replayed with Reece Atkinson who went in to centre back and Bradley McCourt moved forward to Centre Midfield where he would dominate the rest of the match. Our second sub was made on 40th minute when top goalscorer Jack Patterson came on for Matthew Cunningham who had a good game on the right wing. Then one minute later we finally got the break through when Matthew Guest found Noah Crenshaw with a pass and he struck the ball sweetly into the back of the net, 1 : 0 Ards. Then three minutes later Jack Patterson let Cliftonville know that he was going to be a handful, as he went down the right wing skipped into the box through their defence only to see his shot come off the post. Goal number two came in the 49th minute when Jack Patterson again went down the right wing and as he played the ball across the box Cliftonville defender put it behind for a corner, Matthew Guest took a quick short corner kick to Stuart Graham who returned the ball back to Matthew he then sent over the cross for Jack Hare to head the ball into the net ( Jack seems to make a habit scoring against Cliftonville ), 2 : 0 Ards. The we were awarded a free kick just on the edge of the Cliftonville box, Matthew Guest stepped up and hit his free kick just over the crossbar. Then on the 54th minute Jack Patterson sent over a cross from the right which Matthew Guest struck on the volley and as the ball whizzed for the top corner Cliftonville keeper pull of a great save. On 55th minute Marcus Baron came on to replace the hard working Ryan Hannah & Dee Thompson came on to replace Matthew Guest on the 57th minute, Marcus went onto the left wing with Dee going up front and night slipping back into midfield. Two minutes later it was 3 : 0 Ards, Jack Patterson again tortured the Cliftonville defence, found Noah Crenshaw with his pass and Noah didn’t hesitate and stuck the ball in the back of the net for his second goal of the match. Three minutes later it was four, when Stuart Graham showed some nice footwork to thread a pass through to Dee Thompson who calmly slotted the ball low past the keeper for his first goal in Ards colours, 4 : 0 Ards. Stuart Hannah came on for the ever present, hard working Stuart Graham and as Stuart leaves the pitch I must tell you about a funny moment when Andrew his twin fowled a Cliftonville player and as the ref turned to talk to him Stuart and Andy were side by side so the ref didn’t know who to talk to so had to talk to both or was it Andy??????. Cliftonville did seem to break our defence but Jai Sykes pulled off a great double handed save but the ref had blown anyway for offside. Two minutes from the end of the normal time saw Reece Atkinson pick up a freak injury and had to be carried off and we had to play the last seven minutes with 10 men as we had used all our subs but we stood firm right till the end.
FULL TIME : 4 . 0
Yes super team performance against Cliftonville, McCourt superb in that second half midfield role took Cliftonville right out of the game in the second half. Noah Crenshaw excellent performance and two well taken goals all round good day at the office......... Watch out Holywood we're comin' to get u. Come on the Bravehearts