ARDS 0 BALLYMENA 0
Ards and Ballymena United played an entertaining but ultimately scoreless draw at Clandeboye Park, with both teams having chances to win the game.
Ards have now gone six games without a goal, and despite a good performance, they are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.
Ballymena had a shout for penalty in the fourth minute of the game when William Faulkner appeared to pull David Cushley’s shirt inside the penalty box.
Faulkner was in the thick of things again, in the seventh minute, when he crossed the ball for Ryan Henderson. The former Donegal Celtic midfielder’s volley was well saved by débutante Yohann Lacroix.
Lacroix was called into action again in the 11th minute when he made smart parried save from a powerful Andrew Hunter free-kick, which was struck with venom from 35 yards.
Gary Thompson had Ballymena’s best chance of the half in the 13th minute, after David Cushley robbed David Armstrong on the touch line. Cushley delivered a smart cross, but Thompson’s headed effort landed in Alan Blayney’s hands.
Mark Surgenor had a half chance on the half hour mark, but his volley flashed past the post. Thompson had another chance in first half stoppage time, but his deflected half volley was held by former Ballymena keeper Blayney.
Ards had the first chance of the second half when a Ryan Moffatt corner kick was headed against the post by David Armstrong in the 59th minute. The ball bounced off the post, and off Lacroix, before Steven Gordon put the rebound over the bar.
Ballymena defender Johnny Taylor had a chance in the 67th minute, but he put his free header from a corner kick just past the post.
Lacroix went villain to hero in a split second, inside the 76th minute. The French goalkeeper dropped Andy Mitchell’s cross at the feet of Neil Dougan, but Lacroix made a marvellous reflex save from Dougan’s rebound effort.
Thompson forced Blayney into an 80th minute tipped save, when his 20 yard effort found the target but not the net, after some smart build up play the Sky Blues.
Ards had a strong shout for a penalty with four minutes left on the clock when new boy James Knowles was bundled over in the area by Gavin Taggart, but referee Evan Boyce waved the protests away.
Ards : Blayney, Gordon, Hunter, Armstrong, Moffatt, Faulkner, Knowles, Henderson (55 Smith), Arthurs (72 McMillen), Mitchell (83 McClelland), Dougan
Subs : Gibson, McCullough
Ballymena United : Lacroix, Kane, Munster, Taylor, Stewart, Thompson (83 Dolan), Surgenor (76 Davidson), Taggart, Cushley (76 Lowry), Jenkins, Teggart
Subs : Ruddy, McLellan
Referee : Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)