Saturday 18th February saw us back home playing at Dairyhall in the South Belfast League for the very first time with an 11.15am kick Off against Solway Star. This had all the hallmarks of being a very competitive match with two teams chasing runners up spot and with this being Solway’s last match they needed the win to stop us from nicking second spot as we still have a game left and only 1 point separating us.
The game started with both teams looking for a goal Solway were quick to get their nose in front in the eighth minute when a ball over the top was miss read by the Ards defence and as Jai Sykes raced out of his goal the Solway striker chipped the ball over his head to score 1.0 Solway. Solway at this stage had their heads up and had the ball in the net again only for the Referee to rule it out for offside ( tight call ) this would be one of many mistakes the Referee would make, to be truthful his was very poor to both teams. The next Refereeing blunder would come 20 minutes in when this time Ards would get a goal chopped off when clearly you could see the ball hit the top of the net and as the net moved the keeper clawed the ball out and the referee did not award the goal. Solway finished the half strong and were marginally the better team in the first half.
HALF TIME: 0 . 1
The second half was to turn out very interesting more ways than one but I will stick to what the boys did, played football. Five minutes in and Solway were down to ten men so it was a time to change formation and go to 3-5-2 Ryan Hannah came on for Reece Atkinson and went straight up front, Matthew Cunningham came on for Noah Crenshaw and both made an impact. Ryan was busy hustling, holding and passing and as he gathered the ball on the left of the box he turned inside passed to defenders but hit his shot straight at keeper, Matthew was up and down the right wing and also had his chance to score but he saw his shot go just over the bar we were certainly in control of the second half but the more we push for the equaliser the more we left ourselves open to the counter attack. When Solway managed to get forward they found Jai Sykes in goal in great form. Then came the next Refereeing blunder when Ryan Hannah got the ball inside the box turned the defender only to be tripped but the Ref decided not to award the Penalty. Things were starting to heat up as the Ref continued to blunder for both teams. Then in the 57th minute we finally got the breakthrough, Stuart Graham headed towards goal and it looked as though the Solway keeper would get to it but Rhys Mackie nipped in to put the ball into the back off the net to the joy of the Ards line 1 . 1. Then four minutes later we would lose the influential and team captain Jack Hare as he went into a 50/50 challenge for the ball and he came out of it in bad shape so he had to come off and was replaced with Marcus Baron of off to hospital for an x-ray. Bradley Clarke came on for the hard working Andrew Graham & Stuart Hannah replace the goal scorer Rhys Mackie. The with five minutes of the match remain everything went pair shaped, those who were their knows what happened and that’s all I will say on this matter but I will say our boys and supporter behaved superbly.
FULL TIME: 1 . 1
Well done boys for a hard fought point, three points against St. Mary’s and you go into runners up spot. You all deserve to get something out of this season and runner up spot would be a great achievement considering we only managed 4th last year in the first division. Let’s get Runners up spot secured against St. Mary’s then go and win the Cups I know you can do this.
Not a pleasant match to watch from the side line.
Strongly agree Sandra!!
Well done today boys, very difficult conditions.
Also, u would have gone on to win it if the ref had awarded a definite goal.
Now its simple, beat St Mary’s to finish runners up
you will do it.................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On a good pitch we beat that team.
Jacks leg not broke, pretty mangled & bad gash.
He's determined to play next game.