Our first game of the season in the Premier League saw us play host to St. Mary’s at Londonderry Park for the first time.
we now can play some home matches in Ards thanks to the S.B.Y.F.L.
With a thin squad of only thirteen players it was a new look Defence with the only original Defender from last season Brandon McFerran who was right back last year, now moving inside to centre Defensive roll and also becoming our new team Captain for the season. He was ably supported in the Centre of Defence by the return of Edward Muldrew, at left back our new signing and a natural left back in Jordan Mulholland and at right back for the first time in five year Stuart Hannah playing his first full match ( well done Stuart ). They were ably supported with Jai Sykes in goals (in my opinion one of the best young keeper in Ards with a big future). This defence would produce a great performance to help us beat a very good St. Mary’s team.
We got out the block very quickly as we normal do and found ourselves 1:0 up in five minutes when Reece Atkinson crossed the ball over from the right and Rhys Mackie hit a sweet shot on the volley in to the top of the net. We kept prodding and the midfield were playing some great football but we knew we could not take St. Mary’s lightly as in previous matches they have all been close. St. Mary’s were always in this game and had a great chance to level when their striker broke clear but Jai Sykes was of his line sharply to dive at the strikers feet and smother the ball. Then 10 minutes from half time we should have been 2 up when Matthew Guest played a defence splitting pass through for Rhys Mackie and as the keeper came out Rhys hit a powerful shot past him only to see it come of the crossbar. St. Mary’s were still looking dangerous but our defence was standing firm and when they did manage to get through Jai was in control of his area.
HALF TIME : 1 - 0
Half time team talk was to keep playing the way they were and work hard for each other. We started the second half as we did the first and within 3 minutes we had doubled our lead, Ryan Hannah gathered the ball on the right played it in field to Noah Crenshaw who square it to Matthew Guest he took one touch and lashed one of his trade mark shot low into the left hand corner of the net, 2:0 Ards. We were now in control and should have added to our score several times, Ryan Hannah saw his shot go just wide, Brandon McFerran who likes to venture forward rattled the post from 25 yards out then Matthew Guest Rattled the other post 5 minutes later. The most controversial moment in the game came when the Ards boys believed they had got a third when Matthew Guests through in went to Reece Atkinson who fired over the ball the St. Mary’s keeper palmed it down and Marcus Baron shot the keeper seemed to pull it back from over the line but the Referee waved the Ards players away. This seemed to knock us out of our rhythm for a while and in that period St. Mary’s got a goal back with 14 minutes left on the clock 2 : 1. The called from the sideline was to calm down and lift it up again and they did. With 12 minutes left Rhys Mackie had taken a knock and was unable to continue, he was replace with our latest new signing Matthew Salmon. We would have another two chances before the end and also a scare, the first chance fell to Marcus Baron but he hit his shot straight at the keeper, the second fell to Matthew Salmon but didn’t connect with the ball and it was an easy save for the keeper. Then with two minutes left St. Mary’s played some neat football to create and chance for an equaliser but as their striker hit his shot goal bound Jai Sykes pull off a wonderful one handed save to keep his team in front. The Ref would add 4 minutes of added time but Ards who had worked hard throughout the match would see the time out.
FULL TIME: 2 - 1
Well done to my Bravehearts today beating St. Mary's 2.1 a great battling performance by all so proud of you all thanks boys for your great match and thanks to St. Mary's a very good team.