Ards boss Niall Currie pleased with his side’s fighting spirit against Cliftonville

Ards Joe McKinney celebrates his second half goal
Ards Joe McKinney celebrates his second half goal

Ards manager Niall Currie believes his side showed great character to comeback from a goal behind on two occasions, against Cliftonville on Saturday.

The Premiership new boys held title hopefuls Cliftonville to a 2-2 draw at the Bangor Fuels Arena, with Joe McKinney scoring a memorable equaliser in the 72nd minute.

Understandably, Currie was delighted with the point.

“The celebrations after Joe McKinney equalised epitomised our attitude.

“This summer, my aim was to bring characters into the dressing room and I think we’ve managed to do that. They won’t be an easy group to manage, but that excites me. I want my players to not only show character, but to also be characters.

“Our shape was very good today. We worked incredibly hard out of possession, and we never said die. That’s exactly what I want in my team.

“We’re not going to get carried away with it because it’s only one point, but it was an important point.”

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle was less happy. He believes the Reds were out-worked by Ards.

“I’m very frustrated because we didn’t find the level of performance we produced in the Europa League. We looked lethargic and we were unable to control the game.

“To have the lead twice and to not win the game is unacceptable.

“The good thing is, we now have competition within the squad, so I have options. One or two players didn’t do themselves justice against Ards.

“The worrying thing for me is, Ards worked harder than we did and I can’t accept that.”

A frustrated Lyttle questioned his players’ attitude.

“We spoke before the game about having the right attitude, but out on the field, I’m not sure our attitude was right.

“We didn’t play our normal game. We didn’t retain the ball. At times, it felt like I was watching a basketball game, with the ball going from end to end.

“Ards won the first ball. Ards won the second ball. It wasn’t good enough.

“It was a frustrating day, but it was only the first game of the season. We’re not going to get too carried away with one result.”

Cliftonville took the lead in the 28th minute thanks to Levi Ives’ first goal for the club. Fellow left-back Michael Ruddy equalised from the penalty spot in the 35th minute, after Caoimhin Bonner handled a Craig McMillen cross.

Jay Donnelly gave the Reds the lead in the 46th minute with a divine lob, only for Ards to claim a share of the points thanks to an incredible solo goal from debutant Joe McKinney, in the 82nd minute.

The former Comber Rec man collected the ball on the touchline, 25-yards from goal, before driving infield. He nipped past two Cliftonville defenders before clipping the ball into the net from a tight angle.

On Wednesday, Ards will travel to Stangmore Park to play Dungannon, while the Reds will host Glentoran